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THE FIRST MEN IN 
THE MOON 



D 




I was progressing in great leaps and bounds " 



Frontispiece. 



The First Men 
in the Moon 



Hf G ' Wells 



Author of " Tales of Space and Time," 

" Love and Mr. Lewisham," 

and <' Anticipations " 



"Three thousand stadia from the earth to the 
moon. . . . Marvel not, my comrade, if I appear 
talking to yofl on super-terrestrial and aerial topics. 
The long and the short of the matter is that I am 
running over the order of a Journey I have lately 
made." — Lucian 's Icaromenippus 



London 
George Newnes, Limited 

Southampton Street, Strand 
1901 



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CONTENTS 



I. 

II. 

III. 

IV. 

V. 

VI. 

VII. 

VIII. 

IX. 

X. 

XI. 

XII. 

XIII. 

XIV. 

XV. 

XVI. 

XVII. 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR AT LYMPNE 

THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 

THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 

INSIDE THE SPHERE 

THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 

THE LANDING ON THE MOON 

SUNRISE ON THE MOON 

A LUNAR MORNING 

PROSPECTING BEGINS 

LOST MEN IN THE MOON 

THE MOONCALF PASTURES 

THE SELENITE's FACE . 

MR. CAVOR MAKES SOME SUGGESTIONS 

EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 

THE GIDDY BRIDGE 

POINTS OF VIEW .... 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE OF THE 
BUTCHERS 



XVIII. IN THE SUNLIGHT 



MOON 



PAGE 

I 

28 

4T 

54 
61 

70 

77 

85 
92 

107 

115 
132 

140 

152 

161 

178 

191 
207 



vi CONTENTS 

PAGE 

XIX. MR. BEDFORD ALONE . . . . .221 

XX. MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE . .238 

XXI. MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE . . . 249 

XXII. THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION OF MR. 

JULIUS WENDIGEE 27 1 

XXIII. AN ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES FIRST 

RECEIVED FROM MR. CAVOR . . .277 

XXIV. THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SELENITES . 289 

XXV. THE GRAND LUNAR 316 

XXVI. THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT TO THE 

EARTH 340 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

** I WAS PROGRESSING IN GREAT LEAPS AND 

Bounds" ...... Frontispiece 

*' He GESTICULATED WITH HIS HaNDS AND 

Arms" ...... To face page 6 

"I LOOKED BACK AT HIS RECEDING FiGURE " ,, ,, II 

*'I SAT across THE EDGE OF THE MaNHOLE 
AND LOOKED DOWN INTO THE BlACK IN- 
TERIOR" . . . . . ,, ,, 54 

*'We WATCHED INTENSELY" . . • j. ,> 87 

"I REALISED MY LeAP HAD BEEN TOO VIOLENT" ,, ,, lOI 

*' Insects," murmured Cavor, "Insects" . „ „ 130 

"There the Thing was, looking at Us" . ,, „ 137 

"Bedford," he whispered, "there's a sort 

of Light in front of Us " . . . ,, ,, 177 

" The nearer I struggled, the more awfully 

remote it seemed . . . • s, >> 236 

"They carried Him into Darkness". . „ ,, 292 

The Grand Lunar . . . . », ,» 322 



vu 



THE FIRST MEN IN 
THE MOON 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR AT LYMPNE 

As I sit down to write here amidst the 
shadows of vine-leaves under the blue sky of 
southern Italy, it comes to me with a certain 
quality of astonishment that my participation 
in these amazing adventures of Mr. Cavor 
was, after all, the outcome of the purest acci- 
dent. It might have been any one. I fell 
into these things at a time when I thought 
myself removed from the slightest possibility 
of disturbing experiences. I had gone to 
Lympne because I had imagined it the most 
uneventful place in the world. ** Here, at any 
rate," said I, " I shall find peace and a chance 
to work ! " 
''And this book is the sequel. So utterly at 

A 



2 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

variance is Destiny with all the little plans of 
men. 

I may perhaps mention here that very re- 
cently I had come an ugly cropper in certain 
business enterprises. Sitting now surrounded 
by all the circumstances of wealth, there is 
a luxury in admitting my extremity. I can 
admit, even, that to a certain extent my dis- 
asters were conceivably of my own making. It 
may be there are directions in which I have 
some capacity, but the conduct of business 
operations is not among these. But in those 
days I was young, and my youth among other 
objectionable forms took that of a pride in my 
capacity for affairs. I am young still in years, 
but the things that have happened to me have 
rubbed something of the youth from my mind. 
Whether they have brought any wisdom to 
light below it is a more doubtful matter. 

It is scarcely necessary to go into the details 
of the speculations that landed me at Lympne, 
in Kent. Nowadays even about business trans- 
actions there is a strong spice of adventure. 
I took risks. In these things there is invari- 
ably a certain amount of give and take, and it 
fell to me finally to do the giving., Reluctantly 
enough. Even when I had got out of every- 
thing, one cantankerous creditor saw fit to be 



MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 3 

malignant. Perhaps you have met that flaming 
sense of outraged virtue, or perhaps you have 
only felt it. He ran me hard It seemed to 
me, at last, that there was nothing for it but to 
write a play, unless I wanted to drudge for my 
living as a clerk. I have a certain imagination, 
and luxurious tastes, and I meant to make a 
vigorous fight for it before that fate overtook 
me. In addition to my belief in my powers as 
a business man, I had always in those days had 
an idea that I was equal to writing a very good 
play. It is not, I believe, a very uncommon 
persuasion. I knew there is nothing a man 
can do outside legitimate business transactions 
that has such opulent possibilities, and very 
probably that biased my opinion. I had, in- 
deed, got into the habit of regarding this un- 
written drama as a convenient little reserve 
put by for a rainy day. That rainy day had 
come and I set to work. 

I soon discovered that writing a play was a 
longer business than I had supposed ; at first 
I had reckoned ten days for it, and it was to 
have a pied-a-terre while it was in hand that I 
came to Lympne. I reckoned myself lucky in 
getting that little bungalow. I got it on a 
three years' agreement. I put in a few sticks 
of furniture, and while the play was in hand 



4 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I did my own cooking. My cooking would 
have shocked Mrs. Bond. And yet, you know, 
it had flavour. I had a coffee-pot, a sauce-pan 
for eggs, and one for potatoes, and a frying- 
pan for sausages and bacon — such was the 
simple apparatus of my comfort. One cannot 
always be magnificent, but simplicity is always 
a possible alternative. For the rest I laid in 
an elghteen-gallon cask of beer on credit, and 
a trustful baker came each day. It was not, 
perhaps, in the style of Sybarls, but I have 
had worse times. I was a little sorry for the 
baker, who was a very decent man indeed, but 
even for him I hoped. 

Certainly if any one wants solitude, the place 
is Lympne. It is in the clay part of Kent, and 
my bungalow stood on the edge of an old sea 
cliff and stared across the flats of Romney 
Marsh at the sea. In very wet weather the 
place is almost inaccessible, and I have heard 
that at times the postman used to traverse the 
more succulent portions of his route with boards 
upon his feet. I never saw him doing so, but 
I can quite imagine It. Outside the doors of 
the few cottages and houses that make up the 
present village big birch besoms are stuck, to 
wipe off the worst of the clay, which will give 
some idea of the texture of the district. I 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 5 

doubt if the place would be there at all, if it 
were not a fading memory of things gone for 
ever. It was the big port of England in 
Roman times, Portus Lemanus, and now the 
sea is four miles away. All down the steep 
hill are boulders and masses of Roman brick- 
work, and from it old Watling Street, still 
paved in places, starts like an arrow to the 
north. I used to stand on the hill and think 
of it all, the galleys and legions, the captives 
and officials, the women and traders, the specu- 
lators like myself, all the swarm and tumult 
that came clanking in and out of the harbour. 
And now just a few lumps of rubble on a 
grassy slope, and a sheep or two — and me ! 
And where the port had been were the levels 
of the marsh, sweeping round in a broad curve 
to distant Dungeness, and dotted here and 
there with tree clumps and the church towers 
of old mediaeval towns that are following 
Lemanus now towards extinction. 

That outlook on the marsh was, indeed, one 
of the finest views I have ever seen. I sup- 
pose Dungeness was fifteen miles away ; it 
lay like a raft on the sea, and further westward 
were the hills by Hastings under the setting 
sun. Sometimes they hung close and clear, 
sometimes they were faded and low, and often 



6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

the drift of the weather took them clean out of 
sight. And all the nearer parts of the marsh 
were laced and lit by ditches and canals. 

The window at which I worked looked over 
the skyline of this crest, and it was from this 
window that I first set eyes on Cavor. It 
was just as I was struggling with my scenario, 
holding down my mind to the sheer hard work 
of it, and naturally enough he arrested my 
attention. 

The sun had set, the sky was a vivid tran- 
quillity of green and yellow, and against that 
he came out black — the oddest little figure. 

He was a short, round-bodied, thin-legged 
little man, with a jerky quality in his motions ; 
he had seen fit to clothe his extraordinary 
mind in a cricket cap, an overcoat, and cycling 
knickerbockers and stockings. Why he did 
so I do not know, for he never cycled and he 
never played cricket. It was a fortuitous 
concurrence of garments, arising I know not 
how. He gesticulated with his hands and 
arms, and jerked his head about and buzzed. 
He buzzed like something electric. You 
never heard such buzzing. And ever and 
again he cleared his throat with a most extra- 
ordinary noise. 

There had been rain, and tliat spasmodic 




" He gesticulated with his hands and arms 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 7 

walk of his was enhanced by the extreme 
slipperiness of the footpath. Exactly as he 
came against the sun he stopped, pulled out 
a watch, hesitated. Then with a sort of 
convulsive gesture he turned and retreated 
with every manifestation of haste, no longer 
gesticulating, but going with ample strides 
that showed the relatively large size of his 
feet — they were, I remember, grotesquely ex- 
aggerated in size by adhesive clay — to the 
best possible advantage. 

This occurred on the first day of my sojourn, 
when my play-writing energy was at its height, 
and I regarded the incident simply as an 
annoying distraction — the waste of five minutes. 
I returned to my scenario. But when next 
evening the apparition was repeated with re- 
markable precision, and again the next even- 
ing, and indeed every evening when rain was 
not falling, concentration upon the scenario 
became a considerable effort. ''Confound the 
man," said I, "one would think he was learn- 
ing to be a marionette ! " and for several 
evenings I cursed him pretty heartily. 

Then my annoyance gave way to amaze- 
ment and curiosity. Why on earth should 
a man do this thing? On the fourteenth 
evening I could stand it no longer, and so 



8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

soon as he appeared I opened the French 
window, crossed the verandah, and directed 
myself to the point where he invariably 
stopped. 

He had his watch out as I came up to him. 
He had a chubby, rubicund face with reddish 
brown eyes — previously I had seen him only 
against the light. " One moment, sir," said I 
as he turned. 

He stared. ** One moment," he said, '' cer- 
tainly. Or if you wish to speak to me for 
longer, and it is not asking too much — your 
moment is up — would it trouble you to ac- 
company me ? " 

" Not in. the least," said I, placing myself 
beside him. 

** My habits are regular. My time for inter- 
course — limited." 

'* This, I presume, is your time for exer- 
cise f 

'' It is. I come here to enjoy the sunset." 

** You don't." 

-Sir?" 

** You never look at it." 

" Never look at it ? " 

** No. I've watched you thirteen nights, 
and not once have you looked at the sunset 
— not once." 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 9 

He knitted his brows like one who en- 
counters a problem. 

"Well, I enjoy the sunlight — the atmos- 
phere — I go along this path, through that 
gate" — he jerked his head over his shoulder 
— "and round " 

"You don't. You never have been. It's 
all nonsense. There isn't a way. To-night, 
for instance " 

" Oh ! to-night ! Let me see. Ah ! I just 
glanced at my watch, saw that I had already 
been out just three minutes over the precise 
half-hour, decided there was not time to go 
round, turned " 

"You always do." 

He looked at me — reflected. " Perhaps I 
do, now I come to think of it. But what 
was it you wanted to speak to me about ? " 

" Why, this ! " 

"This?" 

"Yes. Why do you do it? Every night 
you come making a noise " 

" Making a noise ? " 

" Like this " — I imitated his buzzing noise. 

He looked at me, and it was evident the 
buzzing awakened distaste. ** Do I do that?'' 
he asked. 

" Every blessed evening." 



lo THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

'' I had no idea." 

He stopped dead. He regarded me gravely. 
*'Can it be," he said, ''that I have formed a 
Habit.?" 

'' Well, it looks like it. Doesn't it ? " 

He pulled down his lower lip between finger 
and thumb. He regarded a puddle at his 
feet. 

*' My mind is much occupied," he said. 
''And you want to know w/iy f Well, sir, I 
can assure you that not only do I not know 
why I do these things, but I did not even 
know I did them. Come to think, it is just 
as you say ; I never Aave been beyond that 
field . . . And these things annoy you ? " 

For some reason I was beginning to relent 
towards him. " Not annoy!' I said. " But — 
imagine yourself writing a play ! " 

** I couldn't." 

" Well, anything that needs concentration." 

"Ah!" he said, "of course," and meditated. 
His expression became so eloquent of distress, 
that I relented still more. After all, there is a 
touch of aggression in demanding of a man 
you don't know why he hums on a public 
footpath. 

" You see," he said weakly, " it's a habit." 

" Oh, I recognise that." 




I looked back at his receding figure " 



MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR ii 

*' I must stop it." 

'' But not if it puts you out. After all, I 
had no business — it's something of a liberty." 

*' Not at all, sir," he said, "not at all. I 
am greatly indebted to you. I should guard 
myself against these things. In future I will. 
Could I trouble you — once again? That 
noise r 

*' Something like this," I said. ** Zuzzoo, 
zuzzoo. But really, you know " 

" I am greatly obliged to you. In fact, I 
know I am getting absurdly absent-minded. 
You are quite justified, sir — perfectly justified. 
Indeed, I am indebted to you. The thing 
shall end. And now, sir, I have already 
brought you further than I should have 
done." 

'' I do hope my impertinence " 

" Not at all, sir, not at all." 

We regarded each other for a moment. I 
raised my hat and wished him a good evening. 
He responded convulsively, and so we went 
our ways. 

At the stile I looked back at his receding 
figure. His bearing had changed remarkably, 
he seemed limp, shrunken. The contrast with 
his former gesticulating, zuzzoing self took me 
in some absurd way as pathetic. I watched 



12 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

him out of sight. Then wishing very heartily 
I had kept to my own business, I returned to 
my bungalow and my play. 

The next evening I saw nothing of him, nor 
the next. But he was very much in my mind, 
and it had occurred to me that as a sentimental 
comic character he might serve a useful pur- 
pose in the development of my plot. The 
third day he called upon me. 

For a time I was puzzled to think what had 
brought him. He made indifferent conversa- 
tion in the most formal way, then abruptly he 
came to business. He wanted to buy me out 
of my bungalow. 

" You see," he said, *' I don't blame you in 
the least, but you've destroyed a habit, and it 
disorganises my day. I've walked past here 
for years — years. No doubt I've hummed 
. . . "^5:01 ve made all that impossible ! " 

I suggested he might try some other direc- 
tion. 

"No. There is no other direction. This 
is the only one. I've inquired. And now — 
every afternoon at four — I come to a dead 
wall." 

'' But, my dear sir, if the thing is so im- 
portant to you " 

*' It's vital. You see, I'm — I'm an investi- 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR i^ 

gator — I am engaged in a scientific research, 
I live — " he paused and seemed to think. 
"Just over there," he said, and pointed 
suddenly dangerously near my eye. " The 
house with white chimneys you see just over 
the trees. And my circumstances are ab- 
normal — abnormal. I am on the point of 
completing one of the most important demon- 
strations — I can assure you one of ifke most 
important demonstrations that have ever been 
made. It requires constant thought, constant 
mental ease and activity. And the afternoon 
was my brightest time ! — effervescing with 
new ideas — new points of view." 

" But why not come by still ? " 

" It would be all different. I should be 
self-conscious. I should think of you at your 
play — watching me irritated — instead of think- 
ing of my work. No ! I must • ^e the 
bungalow." 

I meditated. Naturally, I wanted to think 
the matter over thoroughly before anything 
decisive was said. I was generally ready 
enough for business in ' those days, and selling 
always attracted me ; but in the first place it 
was not my bungalow, and even if I sold 
it to him at a good price I might get incon- 
venienced in the delivery of goods if the 



14 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

current owner got wind of the transaction, 
and in the second I was, well — undischarged. 
It was clearly a business that required delicate 
handling. Moreover, the possibility of his 
being in pursuit of some valuable invention 
also interested me. It occurred to me that I 
would like to know more of this research, not 
with any dishonest intention, but simply with 
an idea that to know what it was would be a 
relief from play-writing. I threw out feelers. 

He was quite willing to supply information. 
Indeed, once he was fairly under way the con- 
versation became a monologue. He talked 
like a man long pent up, who has had it over 
with himself again and again. He talked for 
nearly an hour, and I must confess I found it a 
pretty stiff bit of listening. But through it all 
there was the undertone of satisfaction one feels 
when one is neglecting work one has set one- 
self. During that first interview I gathered 
very little of the drift of his work. Half his 
words were technicalities entirely strange to 
me, and he illustrated one or two points with 
what he was pleased to call elementary mathe- 
matics, computing on an envelope with a 
copying-ink pencil, in a manner that made it 
hard even to 3eem to understand. *'Yes," I 
said ; '' yes. Go on ! " Nevertheless I made 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 15 

out enough to convince me that he was no 
mere crank playing at discoveries. In spite 
of his crank-like appearance there was a force 
about him that made that impossible. What- 
ever it was, it was a thing with mechanical 
possibilities. He told me of a work-shed he 
had, and of three assistants — originally jobbing 
carpenters — whom he had trained. Now, from 
the work-shed to the patent office is clearly 
only one step. He invited me to see those 
things. I accepted readily, and took care, by 
a remark or so, to underline that. The pro- 
posed transfer of the bungalow remained very 
conveniently in suspense. 

At last he rose to depart, with an apology 
for the length of his call. Talking over his 
work was, he said, a pleasure enjoyed only too 
rarely. It was not often he found such an 
intelligent listener as myself, he mingled very 
little with professional scientific men. 

" So much pettiness," he explained ; '' so 
much intrigue ! And really, when one has an 
idea — a novel, fertilising idea — I don't want 
to be uncharitable, but " 

I a<n a man who believes in impulses. I 
made what was perhaps a rash proposition. 
But you must remember that I had been alone, 
play-writing in Lympne, for fourteen days, 



i6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

and my compunction for his ruined walk still 
hung about me. " Why not," said I, " make 
this your new habit? In the place of the one 
I spoilt ? At least, until we can settle about 
the bungalow. What you want is to turn over 
your work in your mind. That you have 
always done during your afternoon walk. Un- 
fortunately that's over — you cant get things 
back as they were. But why not come and 
talk about your work to me ; use me as a sort 
of wall against which you may throw your 
thoughts and catch them again? It's certain 
I don't know enough to steal your ideas myself 
— and I know no scientific men " 

I stopped. He was considering. Evidently 
the thing attracted him. '' But I'm afraid I 
should bore you," he said. 

*' You think I'm too dull ? " 

** Oh no ; but technicalities " 

" Anyhow, you've interested me immensely 
this afternoon." 

" Of course it would be a great help to me. 
Nothing clears up one's ideas so much as 
explaining them. Hitherto " 

" My dear sir, say no more." 

** But really can you spare the time ? " 

*' There is no rest like change of occupation," 
I said, with profound conviction. 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 17 

The affair was over. On my verandah steps 
he turned. " I am already greatly Indebted 
to you," he said. 

I made an interrogative noise. 

" You have completely cured me of that 
ridiculous habit of humming," he explained. 

I think I said I was glad to be of any 
service to him, and he turned away. 

Immediately the train of thought that our 
conversation had suggested must have resumed 
its sway. His arms began to wave in their 
former fashion. The faint echo of '* zuzzoo " 
came back to me on the breeze. ... 

Well, after all, that was not my affair. . . . 

He came the next day, and again the next 
day after that, and delivered two lectures on 
physics to our mutual satisfaction. He talked 
with an air of being extremely lucid about the 
** ether," and "tubes of force," and '* gravita- 
tional potential," and things like that, and I sat 
in my other folding-chair and said, '' Yes," 
*' Go on," " I follow you," to keep him going. 
It was tremendously difficult stuff, but I do 
not think he ever suspected how much I did 
not understand him. There were moments 
when I doubted whether I was well employed, 
but at any rate I was resting from that con- 
founded play. Now and then things gleamed 

B 



i8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

on me clearly for a space, only to vanish just 
when I thought I had hold of them. Some- 
times my attention failed altogether, and I 
would give it up and sit and stare at him, 
wondering whether, after all, it would not be 
better to use him as a central figure in a good 
farce and let all this other stuff slide. And 
then, perhaps, I would catch on again for a bit. 
At the earliest opportunity I went to see 
his house. It was large and carelessly fur- 
nished ; there were no servants other than 
his three assistants, and his dietary and pri- 
vate life were characterised by a philosophical 
simplicity. He was a water-drinker, a vege- 
tarian, and all those logical disciplinary things. 
But the sight of his equipment settled many 
doubts. It looked like business from cellar 
to attic — an amazing little place to find in 
an out-of-the-way village. The ground-floor 
rooms contained benches and apparatus, the 
bakehouse and scullery boiler had developed 
into respectable furnaces, dynamos occupied 
the cellar, and there was a gasometer in the 
garden. He showed it to me with all the 
confiding zest of a man who has been living 
too much alone. His seclusion was overflow- 
ing now in an excess of confidence, and I had 
the good luck to be the recipient. 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 19 

The three assistants were creditable speci- 
mens of the class of ** handy-men " from which 
they came. Conscientious if unintelligent, 
strong, civil, and willing. One, Spargus, who 
did the cooking and all the metal work, had 
been a sailor ; a second, Gibbs, was a joiner ; 
and the third was an ex-jobbing gardener, and 
now general assistant. They were the merest 
labourers. All the intelligent work was done 
by Cavor. Theirs was the darkest ignorance 
compared even with my muddled impression. 

And now, as to the nature of these inquiries. 
Here, unhappily, comes a grave difficulty. I 
am no scientific expert, and if I were to 
attempt to set forth in the highly scientific 
language of Mr. Cavor the aim to which his 
experiments tended, I am afraid I should 
confuse not only the reader but myself, and 
almost certainly I should make some blunder 
that would bring upon me the mockery of 
every up - to - date student of mathematical 
physics in the country. The best thing I 
can do therefore is, I think, to give my im- 
pressions in my own inexact language, without 
any attempt to wear a garment of knowledge 
to which I have no claim. 

The object of Mr. Cavor's search was a 
substance that should be ** opaque " — he used 



20 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

some other word I have forgotten, but 
** opaque " conveys the idea — to " all forms 
of radiant energy." " Radiant energy," he 
made me understand, was anything like light 
or heat, or those Rontgen Rays there was so 
much talk about a year or so ago, or the 
electric waves of Marconi, or gravitation. All 
these things, he said, radiate out from centres, 
and act on bodies at a distance, whence comes 
the term *' radiant energy." Now almost all 
substances are opaque to some form or other 
of radiant energy. Glass, for example, is 
transparent to light, but much less so to heat, 
so that it is useful as a fire-screen ; and alum 
is transparent to light, but blocks heat com- 
pletely. A solution of iodine in carbon 
bisulphide, on the other hand, completely 
blocks light, but is quite transparent to heat. 
It will hide a fire from you, but permit all 
its warmth to reach you. Metals are not 
only opaque to light and heat, but also to 
electrical energy, which passes through both 
iodine solution and glass almost as though they 
were not interposed. And so on. 

Now all known substances are " transparent" 
to gravitation. You can use screens of various 
sorts to cut off the light or heat, or electrical 
influence of the sun, or the warmth of the earth 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 2i 

from anything ; you can screen things by sheets 
of metal from Marconi's rays, but nothing will 
cut off the gravitational attraction of the sun or 
the gravitational attraction of the earth. Yet 
why there should be nothing is hard to say. 
Cavor did not see why such a substance should 
not exist, and certainly I could not tell him. 
I had never thought of such a possibility 
before. He showed me by calculations on 
paper, which Lord Kelvin, no doubt, or Pro- 
fessor Lodge, or Professor Karl Pearson, or 
any of those great scientific people might have 
understood, but which simply reduced me to a 
hopeless muddle, that not only was such a sub- 
stance possible, but that it must satisfy certain 
conditions. It was an amazing piece of reason- 
ing. Much as it amazed and exercised me at 
the time, it would be impossible to reproduce 
it here. " Yes," I said to it all, ** yes ; go on ! " 
Suffice it for this story that he believed he 
might be able to manufacture this possible 
substance opaque to gravitation out of a com- 
plicated alloy of metals and something new — a 
new element, I fancy — called, I believe, helium, 
which was sent to him from London in sealed 
stone jars. Doubt has been thrown upon this 
detail, but I am almost certain it was helium 
he had serit him in sealed stone jars. It was 



22 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

certainly something very gaseous and thin. If 
only I had taken notes. . . . 

But then, how was I to foresee the necessity 
of taking notes ? 

Any one with the merest germ of an ima- 
gination will understand the extraordinary 
possibilities of such a substance, and will 
sympathise a little with the emotion I felt as 
this understanding emerged from the haze of 
abstruse phrases in which Cavor expressed 
himself. Comic relief in a play indeed ! It 
was some time before I would believe that I 
had interpreted him aright, and I was very 
careful not to ask questions that would have 
enabled him to gauge the profundity of mis- 
understanding into which he dropped his daily 
exposition. But no one reading the story of 
it here will sympathise fully, because from my 
barren narrative it will be impossible to gather 
the strength of my conviction that this astonish- 
ing substance was positively going to be made. 

I do not recall that I gave my play an 
hour's consecutive work at any time after my 
visit to his house. My imagination had other 
things to do. There seemed no limit to the 
possibilities of the stuff ; whichever way I tried 
I came on miracles and revolutions. For 
example, if one wanted to lift a weight, how- 



MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 23 

ever enormous, one had only to get a sheet of 
this substance beneath it, and one might lift it 
with a straw. My first natural impulse was to 
apply this principle to guns and ironclads, and 
all the material and methods of war, and from 
that to shipping, locomotion, building, every 
conceivable form of human industry. The 
chance that had brought me into the very birth- 
chamber of this new time — it was an epoch, 
no less — was one of those chances that come 
once in a thousand years. The thing unrolled, it 
expanded and expanded. Among other things 
I saw in it my redemption as a business man. 
I saw a parent company, and daughter com- 
panies, applications to right of us, applications 
to left, rings and trusts, privileges and con- 
cessions spreading and spreading, until one 
vast, stupendous Cavorite company ran and 
ruled the world. 

And I was in it ! 

I took my line straight away. I knew I was 
staking everything, but I jumped there and then. 

*' We're on absolutely the biggest thing that 
has ever been invented," I said, and put the 
accent on ** we." "If you want to keep me 
out of this, you'll have to do it with a gun. 
I'm coming down to be your fourth labourer 
to-morrow." 



24 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

He seemed surprised at my enthusiasm, but 
not a bit suspicious or hostile. Rather, he was 
self-depreciatory. 

He looked at me doubtfully. " But do you 
really think — ?" he said. ''And your play! 
How about that play ? " 

"It's vanished!" I cried. "My dear sir, 
don't you see what you've got ? Don't you 
see what you're going to do ? " 

That was merely a rhetorical turn, but 
positively, he didn't. At first I could not be- 
lieve it. He had not had the beginning of the 
inkling of an idea. This astonishing little 
man had been working on purely theoretical 
grounds the whole time ! When he said it 
was *' the most important " research the world 
had ever seen, he simply meant it squared up 
so many theories, settled so much that was in 
doubt ; he had troubled no more about the 
application of the stuff he was 1 going to turn 
out than if he- had been a machine that makes 
guns. This was a possible substance, and he 
was going to make it! Wa tout, as the 
Frenchman says. 

Beyond that, he was childish ! If he made 
it, it would go down to posterity as Cavorite or 
Cavorine, and he would be made an F.R.S., 
and his portrait given away as a scientific 



MR, BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 25 

worthy with Nature, and things like that. 
And that was all he saw! He would have 
dropped this bombshell into the world as 
though he had discovered a new species of 
gnat, if it had not happened that I had come 
along. And there it would have lain and 
fizzled, like one or two other little things 
these scientific people have lit and dropped 
about us. 

When I realised this, it was I did the 
talking, and Cavor who said *'Go on!" I 
jumped up. I paced the room, gesticulating 
like a boy of twenty. I tried to make him 
understand his duties and responsibilities in the 
matter — our duties and responsibilities in the 
matter. I assured him we might make wealth 
enough to work any sort of social revolution 
we fancied, we might own and order the whole 
world. I told him of companies and patents, 
and the case for secret processes. All these 
things seemed to take him much as his mathe- 
matics had taken me. A look of perplexity 
came into his ruddy little face. He stammered 
something about indifference to wealth, but I 
brushed all that aside. He had got to be rich, 
and it was no good his stammering. I gave 
him to understand the sort of man I was, and 
that I had had very considerable business 



26 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

experience. I did not tell him I was an undis- 
charged bankrupt at the time, because that 
was temporary, but I think I reconciled my 
evident poverty with my financial claims. And 
quite insensibly, in the way such projects 
grow, the understanding of a Cavorite mono- 
poly grew up between us. He was to make 
the stuff, and I was to make the boom. 

I stuck like a leech to the *'we" — "you" 
and '' I " didn't exist for me. 

His Idea was, that the profits I spoke of 
might go to endow research, but that, of course, 
was a matter we had to settle later. ** That's 
all right," I shouted, ''that's all right." The 
great point, as I insisted, was to get the thing 
done. 

** Here is a substance," I cried, "no home, 
no factory, no fortress, no ship can dare to 
be without — more universally applicable even 
than a patent medicine ! There isn't a solitary 
aspect of it, not one of its ten thousand possible 
uses that will not make us rich, Cavor, beyond 
the dreams of avarice ! " 

" No ! " he said. " I begin to see. It's ex- 
traordinary how one gets new points of view 
by talking over things ! " 

** And as it happens you have just talked to 
the right man ! " 



MR. BEDFORD MEETS MR. CAVOR 27 

*' I suppose no one," he said, '' is absolutely 
averse to enormous wealth. Of course there is 
one thing " 

He paused. I stood still. 

" It is just possible, you know, that we may 
not be able to make it after all ! It may be 
one of those things that are a theoretical pos- 
sibility, but a practical absurdity. Or when we 
make it, there may be some little hitch ! " 

" We'll tackle the hitch when it comes," 
said I. 



II 

THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 

But Cavor's fears were groundless, so far as 
the actual making was concerned. On the 
14th of October 1899 this incredible substance 
was made ! 

Oddly enough, it was made at last by acci- 
dent, when Mr. Cavor least expected it. He 
had fused together a number of metals and 
certain other things — I wish I knew the par- 
ticulars now ! — and he intended to leave the 
mixture a week and then allow it to cool slowly. 
Unless he had miscalculated, the last stage in 
the combination would occur when the stuff 
sank to a temperature of 60° Fahr. But it 
chanced that, unknown to Cavor, dissension had 
arisen about the furnace tending. Gibbs, who 
had previously seen to this, had suddenly at- 
tempted to shift it to the man who had been a 
gardener, on the score that coal was soil, being 
dug, and therefore could not possibly fall within 

the province of a joiner ; the man who had 

28 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 29 

been a jobbing gardener alleged, however, that 
coal was a metallic or ore-like substance, let 
alone that he was cook. But Spargus insisted 
on Gibbs doing the coaling, seeing that he was 
a joiner and that coal is notoriously fossil wood. 
Consequently Gibbs ceased to replenish the 
furnace, and no one else did so, and Cavor was 
too much immersed in certain interesting prob- 
lems concerning a Cavorite flying machine 
(neglecting the resistance of the air and one or 
two other points) to perceive that anything was 
wrong. And the premature birth of his invention 
took place just as he was coming across the field 
to my bungalo^v for our afternoon talk and tea. 

I remember the occasion with extreme vivid- 
ness. The water was boiling, and everything 
was prepared, and the sound of his "zuzzoo" 
had brought me out upon the verandah. His 
active little figure was black against the au- 
tumnal sunset, and to the right the chimneys of 
his house just rose above a gloriously tinted 
group of trees. Remoter rose the Wealden 
Hills, faint and blue, while to the left the hazy 
marsh spread out spacious and serene. And 
then ! 

The chimneys jerked heavenward, smashing 
into a string of bricks as they rose, and the 
roof and a miscellany of furniture followed. 



30 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Then overtaking them came a huge white 
flame. The trees about the building swayed 
and whirled and tore themselves to pieces, 
that sprang towards the flare. My ears were 
smitten with a clap of thunder that left me 
deaf on one side for life, and all about me 
windows smashed, unheeded. 

I took three steps from the verandah towards 
Cavor's house, and even as I did so came the 
wind. 

Instantly my coat tails were over my head, 
and I was progressing in great leaps and bounds, 
and quite against my will, towards him. In the 
same moment the discoverer was seized, whirled 
about, and flew through the screaming air. I 
saw one of my chimney pots hit the ground 
within six yards of me, leap a score of feet, and 
so hurry in great strides towards the focus of 
the disturbance. Cavor, kicking and flapping, 
came down again, rolled over and over on the 
ground for a space, struggled up and was lifted 
and borne forward at an enormous velocity, 
vanishing at last among the labouring, lashing 
trees that writhed about his house. 

A mass of smoke and ashes, and a square of 
bluish shining substance rushed up towards the 
zenith. A large fragment of fencing came sail- 
irfg past me, dropped edgeways, hit the ground 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 31 

and fell flat, and then the worst was over. The 
aerial commotion fell swiftly until it was a mere 
strong gale, and I became once more aware that 
I had breath and feet. By leaning back against 
the wind I managed to stop, and could collect 
such wits as still remained to me. 

In that instant the whole face of the world 
had changed. The tranquil sunset had van- 
ished, the sky was dark with scurrying clouds, 
everything was flattened and swaying with the 
gale. I glanced back to see if my bungalow 
was still in a general way standing, then stag- 
gered forward towards the trees amongst which 
Cavor had vanished, and through whose tall 
and leaf-denuded branches shone the flames of 
his burning house. 

I entered the copse, dashing from one tree 
to another and clinging to them, and for a 
space I sought him in vain. Then amidst a 
heap of smashed branches and fencing that 
had banked itself against a portion of his 
garden wall I perceived something stir. I 
made a run for this, but before I reached it 
a brown object separated itself, rose on two 
muddy legs and protruded two drooping, bleed- 
ing hands. Some tattered ends of garment 
fluttered out from its middle portion and 
streamed before the wind. 



32 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

For a moment I did not recognise this earthy 
lump, and then I saw that it was Cavor, caked 
in the mud in which he had rolled. He leant 
forward against the wind, rubbing the dirt from 
his eyes and mouth. 

He extended a muddy lump of hand, and 
staggered a pace towards me. His face worked 
with emotion, little lumps of mud kept falling 
from it. He looked as damaged and pitiful 
as any living creature I have ever seen, and 
his remark therefore amazed me exceeding. 
** Gratulate me," he gasped ; *' gratulate me ! " 

** Congratulate you ! " said I. " Good 
heavens ! What for ? " 

^Tve done it." 

"You /lave. What on earth caused that 
explosion ? " 

A gust of wind blew his words away. I 
understood him to say that it wasn't an explo- 
sion at all. The wind hurled me into colli- 
sion with him, and we stood clinging to one 
another. 

" Try and get back to my bungalow," I 
bawled in his ear. He did not hear me,, 
and shouted something about ''three martyrs 
— science," and also something about "not| 
much good." At the time he laboured undei 
the impression that his three attendants hac 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 33 

perished in the whirlwind. Happily this was 
incorrect. Directly he had left for my bunga- 
low they had gone off to the public-house in 
Lympne to discuss the question of the furnaces 
over some trivial refreshment. 

I repeated my suggestion of getting back to 
my bungalow, and this time he understood. 
We clung arm-in-arm and started, and man- 
aged at last to reach the shelter of as much 
roof as was left to me. For a space we sat in 
arm-chairs and panted. All the windows were 
broken, and the lighter articles of furniture 
were in great disorder, but no irrevocable 
damage was done. Happily the kitchen door 
had stood the pressure upon it, so that all my 
crockery and cooking materials had survived. 
The oil stove was still burning, and I put on 
the water to boil again for tea. And that pre- 
pared, I could turn on Cavor for his explanation. 

** Quite correct," he insisted ; ** quite correct. 
I've done it, and it's all right." 

**But," I protested. '* All right! Why, 
there can't be a rick , standing, or a fence or 
a thatched roof undamaged for twenty miles 
round. . . ." 

"It's all right — really, I didn't, of course, 
foresee this little upset. My mind was pre- 
occupied with another problem, and I'm apt 

c 



34 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

to disregard these practical side issues. But 
it's all right " ' 

*' My dear sir," I cried, " don't you see youVe 
done thousands of pounds* worth of damage ? " 

** There, I throw myself on your discretion. 
I'm not a practical man, of course, but don't 
you think they will regard it as a cyclone ? " 

'* But the explosion " 

"It was no^ an explosion. It's perfectly 
simple. Only, as I say, I'm apt to overlook 
these little things. It's that zuzzoo business 
on a larger scale. Inadvertently I made this 
substance of mine, this Cavorite, in a thin, 
wide sheet. ..." 

He paused. " You are quite clear that the 
stuff is opaque to gravitation, that it cuts off 
things from gravitating towards each other ? " 

" Yes," said I. " Yes." 

" Well, so soon as it reached a temperature 
of 60** Fahr. and the process of its manufac- 
ture was complete, the air above it, the portions 
of roof and ceiling and floor above it ceased to 
have weight. I suppose you know — everybody 
knows nowadays — that, as a usual thing, the 
air Aas weight, that it presses on everything 
at the surface of the earth, presses in all direc- 
tions, with a pressure of fourteen and a half 
pounds to the square inch ? " 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 35 

" I know that," said I. "Go on." 

'' I know that too," he remarked. " Only 
this shows you how useless knowledge is un- 
less you apply it. You see, over our Cavorite 
this ceased to be the case, the air there ceased 
to exert any pressure, and the air round it and 
not over the Cavorite was exerting a pressure 
of fourteen pounds and a half to the square 
inch upon this suddenly weightless air. Ah! 
you begin to see ! The air all about the 
Cavorite crushed in upon the air above it with 
irresistible force. The air above the Cavorite 
was forced upward violently, the air that rushed 
in to replace it immediately lost weight, ceased 
to exert any pressure, followed suit, blew the 
ceiling through and the roof off. . . . 

"You perceive," he said, **it formed a sort 
of atmospheric fountain, a kind of chimney in 
the atmosphere. And if the Cavorite itself 
hadn't been loose and so got sucked up the 
chimney, does it occur to you what would have 
happened ? " 

I thought. ** I suppose," I said, ** the air 
would be rushing up and up over that infernal 
piece of stuff now." 

" Precisely," he said. " A huge foun- 
tain " 

** Spouting into space I Good heavens ! 



36 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Why, it would have squirted all the atmosphere 
of the earth away ! It would have robbed the 
world of air ! It would have been the death of 
all mankind ! That little lump of stuff! " 

** Not exactly into space," said Cavor, " but 
as bad — ^practically. It would have whipped 
the air off the world as one peels a banana, 
and flung it thousands of miles. It would 
have dropped back again, of course — but on 
an asphyxiated world ! From our point of 
view very little better than if it never came 
back ! " 

I stared. As yet I was too amazed to 
realise how all my expectations had been 
upset. " What do you mean to do now ? " I 
asked. ' 

"In the first place, if I may borrow a garden 
trowel I will remove some of this earth with 
which I am encased, and then if I may avail 
myself of your domestic conveniences I will 
have a bath. This done, we will converse 
more at leisure. It will be wise, I think" — 
he laid a muddy hand on my arm — " if nothing 
were said of this affair beyond ourselves. I 
know I have caused' great damage — probably 
even dwelling-houses may be ruined here and 
there upon the country-side. But on the 
other hand, I cannot possibly pay for the 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 37 

damage I have done, and if the real cause 
of this is published, it will lead only to heart- 
burning and the obstruction of my work. One 
cannot foresee everything, you know, and I 
cannot consent for one moment to add the 
burthen of practical considerations to my 
theorising. Later on, when you have come 
in with your practical mind, and Cavorite is 
floated — floated is the word, isn't it? — and it 
has realised all you anticipate for it, we may 
set matters right with these persons. But not 
now — not now. If no other explanation is 
offered, people, in the present unsatisfactory 
state of meteorological science, will ascribe all 
this to a cyclone ; there might be a public sub- 
scription, and as my house has collapsed and 
been burnt, I should in that case receive a 
considerable share in the compensation, which 
would be extremely helpful to the prosecution 
of our researches. But if it is known that / 
caused this, there will be no public subscrip- 
tion, and everybody will be put out. Practi- 
cally I should never get a chance of working 
in peace again. My three assistants may or 
may not have perished. That is a detail. 
If they have, it is no great loss ; they were 
more zealous than able, and this premature 
event must be largely due to their joint 



38 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

neglect of the furnace. If they have not 
perished, I doubt if they have the intelligence 
to explain the affair. They will accept the 
cyclone story. And if, during the temporary 
unfitness of my house for occupation, I may 
lodge in one of the untenanted rooms of this 
bungalow of yours " 

He paused and regarded me, 

A man of such possibilities, I reflected, is no 
ordinary guest to entertain. 

** Perhaps," said I, rising to my feet, ** we 
had better begin by looking for a trowel," 
and I led the way to the scattered vestiges of 
the greenhouse. 

And while he was having his bath I con- 
sidered the entire question alone. It was 
clear there were drawbacks to Mr. Cavor's 
society I had not foreseen. The absent- 
mindedness that had just escaped depopulating 
the terrestrial globe, might at any moment 
result in some other grave inconvenience. On 
the other hand I was young, my affairs were 
in a mess, and I was in just the mood for 
reckless adventure — with a chance of some- 
thing good at the end of it. I had quite 
settled in my mind that I was to have half at 
least in that aspect of the affair. Fortunately 
I held my bungalow, as I have already ex^ 



I 



THE FIRST MAKING OF CAVORITE 39 

plained, on a three-year agreement, without 
being responsible for repairs ; and my furniture, 
such as there was of it, had been hastily pur- 
chased, was unpaid for, insured, and altogether 
devoid of associations. In the end I decided 
to keep on with him, and see the business 
through. 

Certainly the aspect of things had changed 
very greatly. I no longer doubted at all the 
enormous possibilities of the substance, but 
I began to have doubts about the gun-carriage 
and the patent boots. 

We set to work at once to reconstruct his 
laboratory and proceed with our experiments. 
Cavor talked more on my level than he had 
ever done before, when it came to the question 
of how we should make the stuff next. 

" Of course we must make it again," he 
said, with a sort of glee I had not expected in 
him, " of course we must make it again. We 
have caught a Tartar, perhaps, but we have 
left the theoretical behind us for good and all. 
If we can possibly avoid wrecking this little 
planet of ours, we will. But — there musi be 
risks ! There must be. In experimental work 
there always are. And here, as a practical 
man, ^ou must come in. For my own part 
it seems to me we might make it edgeways, 



40 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

perhaps, and very thin. Yet I don't know. I 
have a certain dim perception of another 
method. I can hardly explain it yet. But 
curiously enough it came into my mind, while 
I was rolling over and over in the mud before 
the wind, and very doubtful how the whole 
adventure was to end, as being absolutely the 
thing I ought to have done." 

Even with my aid we found some little 
difficulty, and meanwhile we kept at work 
restoring the laboratory. There was plenty 
to do before it was absolutely necessary to 
decide upon the precise form and method of 
our second attempt. Our only hitch was the 
strike of the three labourers, who objected to 
my activity as a foreman. But that matter 
we compromised after two days' delay. 



Ill 

THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 

I REMEMBER the occasion very distinctly when 
Cavor told me of his idea of the sphere. He 
had had intimations of it before, but at the 
time it seemed to come to him in a rush. We 
were returning to the bungalow for tea, and 
on the way he fell humming. Suddenly he 
shouted, ** That's it ! That finishes it ! A 
sort of roller blind ! " 

" Finishes what ? " I asked. 

'* Space — anywhere ! The moon ! " 

" What do you mean ? " 

** Mean ? Why — it must be a sphere ! 
That's what I mean ! " 

I saw I was out of it, and for a time I let 
him talk in his own fashion. I hadn't the 
ghost of an idea then of his drift. But after 
he had taken tea he made it clear to me. 

" It's like this," he said. " Last time I ran 

this stuff that cuts things off from gravitation 

into a flat tank with an overlap that held it 

41 



42 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

down. And directly it had cooled and the 
manufacture was completed all that uproar 
happened, nothing above it weighed anything, 
the air went squirting up, the house squirted 
up, and if the stuff itself hadn't squirted up 
too, I don't know what would have happened ! 
But suppose the substance is loose, and quite 
free to go up ? " 

" It will go up at once ! " 

** Exactly. With no more disturbance than 
firing a big gun." 

" But what good will that do.^*" 

" Vm going up with it ! " 

I put down my teacup and stared at him. 

** Imagine a sphere," he explained, ''large 
enough to hold two people and their luggage. 
It will be made of steel lined with thick glass ; 
it will contain a proper store of solidified air, 
concentrated food, water-distilling apparatus, 
and so forth. And enamelled, as it were, on 
the outer steel -" 

'* Cavorite ? " 

" Yes." 

"But how will you get inside ? " 

** There was a similar problem about a 
dumpling." 

" Yes, I know. But how ? " 

" That's perfectly easy. An air-tight man- 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 43 

hole is all that is needed. That, of course, 
will have to be a little complicated ; there 
will have to be a valve, so that things may be 
thrown out, if necessary, without much loss 
of air." 

** Like Jules Verne's thing in * A Trip to the 
Moon ' ? " 

But Cavor was not a reader of fiction. 

" I begin to see," I said slowly. ^' And you 
could get in and screw yourself up while the 
Cavorite was warm, and as soon as it cooled it 
would become impervious to gravitation, and 
off you would fly " 

" At a tangent." 

" You would go off in a straight line — " I 
stopped abruptly. " What is to prevent the 
thing travelling in a straight line into space 
for ever ? " I asked. ** You're not safe to 
get anywhere, and if you do — how will you 
get back ? " 

"I've just thought of that," said Cavor. 
"That's what I meant when I said the thing 
is finished. The inner glass sphere can be 
air-tight and, except for the manhole, con- 
tinuous, and the steel sphere can be made in 
sections, each section capable of rolling up 
after the fashion of a roller blind. These 
can easily be worked by springs, and released 



44 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

and checked by electricity conveyed by plati- 
num wires fused through the glass. All that 
is merely a question of detail. So you see, 
that except for the thickness of the blind 
rollers, the Cavorite exterior of the sphere 
will consist of windows or blinds, whichever 
you like to call them. Well, when all these 
windows or blinds are shut, no light, no heat, 
no gravitation, no radiant energy of any sort 
will get at the inside of the sphere, it will fly 
on through space in a straight line, as you say. 
But open a window, imagine one of the win- 
dows open ! Then at once any heavy body 
that chances to be in that direction will attract 



us " 



I sat taking it in. 

" You see ? " he said. 

" Oh, I seer 

** Practically we shall be able to tack about 
in space just as we wish. Get attracted by 
this and that." 

" Oh yes. Thafs clear enough. Only " 

" Well ? " 

" I don't quite see what we shall do it for ! 
It's really only jumping off the world and back 
again." 

"Surely! For example, one might go to 
the moon." 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 45 

** And when one got there ! What would 
you find ? " 

**We should see — Oh! consider the new 
knowledge." 

"Is there air there ? " 

" There may be." 

" It's a fine idea," I said, ** but it strikes me 
as a large order all the same. The moon ! I'd 
much rather try some smaller things first." 

" They're out of the question, because of 
the air difficulty." 

** Why not apply that idea of spring blinds 
— Cavorite blinds in strong steel cases — to 
lifting weights ? " 

" It wouldn't work," he insisted. ** After all, 
to go into outer space is not so much worse, if 
at all, than a polar expedition. Men go on 
polar expeditions." 

" Not business men. And besides, they get 
paid for polar expeditions. And if anything 
goes wrong there are relief parties. But this 
— it's just firing ourselves off the world for 
nothing." 

" Call it prospecting." 

** You'll have to call it that. . . . One 
might make a book of it perhaps," I said. 

" I have no doubt there will be minerals," 
said Cavor. 



46 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" For example ? " 

** Oh ! sulphur, ores, gold perhaps, possibly 
new elements." 

"Cost of carriage," I said. "You know 
you're no^ a practical man. The moon's a 
quarter of a million miles away." 

"It seems to me it wouldn't cost much 
to cart any weight anywhere if you packed 
it in a Cavorite case." 

I had not thought of that. " Delivered 
free on head of purchaser, eh ? " 

"It isn't as though we were confined to the 



moon." 



" You mean- 



>> 



" There's Mars — clear atmosphere, novel 
surroundings, exhilarating sense of lightness. 
It might be pleasant to go there." 

"Is there air on Mars ?" 

" Oh yes ! " 

" Seems as though you might run it as a 
sanatorium. By the way, how far is Mars ? " 

"Two hundred million miles at present," 
said Cavor airily; "and you go close by the 



sun." 



My imagination was picking itself up again. 
** After all," I said, " there's something in 
these things. There's travel " 

An extraordinary possibility came rushing 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 47 

into my mind. Suddenly I saw, as in a vision, 
the whole solar system threaded with Cavorite 
liners and spheres de luxe, *' Rights of pre- 
emption," came floating into my head — planet- 
ary rights of pre-emption. I recalled the old 
Spanish monopoly in American gold. It 
wasn't as though it was just this planet or 
that — it was all of them. I stared at Cavor's 
rubicund face, and suddenly my imagination 
was leaping and dancing. I stood up, I 
walked up and down ; my tongue was un- 
loosened. 

"I'm beginning to take it in," I said ; ** Tm 
beginning to take it in." The transition from 
doubt to enthusiasm seemed to take scarcely 
any time at all. " But this is tremendous ! " 
I cried. ** This is Imperial ! I haven't been 
dreaming of this sort of thing," 

Once the chill of my opposition was removed, 
his own pent-up excitement had play. He too 
got up and paced. He too gesticulated and 
shouted. We behaved like men inspired. We 
were men inspired. 

"We'll settle all that!" he said in answer 
to some incidental difficulty that had pulled me 
up. " We'll soon settle all that ! We'll start 
the drawings for mouldings this very night." 

" We'll start them now," I responded, and 



48 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

we hurried off to the laboratory to begin upon 
this work forthwith. 

I was like a child in Wonderland all that 
night. The dawn found us both still at work 
— we kept our electric light going heedless 
of the day. I remember now exactly how 
those drawings looked. I shaded and tinted, 
while Cavor drew — smudged and haste-marked 
they were in every line, but wonderfully correct. 
We got out the orders for the steel blinds and 
frames we needed from that night's work, and 
the glass sphere was designed within a week. 
We gave up our afternoon conversations and 
our old routine altogether. We worked, and 
we slept and ate when we could work no 
longer for hunger and fatigue. Our enthusiasm 
infected even our three men, though they had 
no idea what the sphere was for. Through 
those days the man Gibbs gave up walking, 
and went everywhere, even across the room, 
at a sort of fussy run. 

And it grew — the sphere. December 
passed, January — I spent a day with a broom 
sweeping a path through the snow from 
bungalow to laboratory — February, March. 
By the end of March the completion was inf 
sight. In January had come a team of horses,] 
a huge packing-case ; we had our thick glass 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 49 

Sphere now ready, and in position under the 
crane we had rigged to sling it into the steel 
shell. All the bars and blinds of the steel 
shell — it was not really a spherical shell, but 
polyhedral, with a roller blind to each facet 
— had arrived by February, and the lower 
half was bolted together. The Cavorite was 
half made by March, the metallic paste had 
gone through two of the stages in its manu- 
facture, and we had plastered quite half of it 
on to the steel bars and blinds. It was 
astonishing how closely we kept to the lines 
of Cavor's first inspiration in working out 
the scheme. When the bolting together of 
the sphere was finished, he proposed to remove 
the rough roof of the temporary laboratory in 
which the work was done, and build a fur- 
nace about it. So the last stage of Cavorite 
making, in which the paste is heated to a 
dull red glow in a stream of helium, would 
be accomplished when it was already on the 
sphere. 

And then we had to discuss and decide 
what provisions we were to take — compressed 
foods, concentrated essences, steel cylinders 
containing reserve oxygen, an arrangement 
for removing carbonic acid and waste from 
the air and restoring oxygen by means of 

D 



50 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

sodium peroxide, water condensers, and so 
forth. I remember the little heap they made 
in the corner — tins, and rolls, and boxes— con- 
vincingly matter-of-fact. 

It was a strenuous time, with little chance 
of thinking. But one day, when we were 
drawing near the end, an odd mood came 
over me. I had been bricking up the furnace 
all the morning, and I sat down by these 
possessions dead beat. Everything seemed 
dull and incredible. 

'^ But look here, Cavor," I said. " After 
all! What's it all for?" 

He smiled. ** The thing now is to go." 

**The moon," I reflected. *' But what do 
you expect? I thought the moon was a 
dead world." 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

** What do you expect ? " 

" We're going to see." 

*' Are we ? " I said, and stared before me. 

" You are tired," he remarked. " You'd 
better take a walk this afternoon." 

"No," I said obstinately ; "I'm going to 
finish this brickwork." 

And I did, and insured myself a night of 
insomnia. 

I don't think I have ever had such a night. 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 51 

I had some bad times before my business col- 
lapse, but the very worst of those was sweet 
slumber compared to this infinity of aching 
wakefulness. I was suddenly in the most enor- 
mous funk at the thing we were going to do. 

I do not remember before that night think- 
ing at all of the risks we were running. Now 
they came like that array of spectres that once 
beleaguered Prague, and camped around me. 
The strangeness of what we were about to 
do, the unearthliness of it, overwhelmed me. 
I was like a man awakened out of pleasant 
dreams to the most horrible surroundings. 
I lay, eyes wide open, and the sphere seemed 
to get more flimsy and feeble, and Cavor more 
unreal and fantastic, and the whole enterprise 
madder and madder every moment. 

I got out of bed and wandered about. I 
sat at the window and stared at the immensity 
of space. Between the stars was the void, 
the unfathomable darkness ! I tried to re- 
call the fragmentary knowledge of astronomy I 
had gained in my irregular reading, but it was 
all too vague to furnish any idea of the things 
we might expect. At last I got back to bed 
and snatched some moments of sleep — moments 
of nightmare rather — in which I fell and fell and 
fell for evermore into the abyss of the sky. 



52 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I astonished Cavor at breakfast. I told 
him shortly, " I'm not coming with you in 
the sphere." 

I met all his protests with a sullen per- 
sistence. " The thing's too mad," I said, 
** and I won't come. The thing's too mad." 

I would not go with him to the laboratory. 
I fretted about my bungalow for a time, and 
then took hat and stick and set off alone, I 
knew not whither. It chanced to be a glorious 
morning : a warm wind and deep blue sky, 
the first green of spring abroad, and multi- 
tudes of birds singing. I lunched on beef 
and beer in a little public-house near Elham, 
and startled the landlord by remarking apropos 
of the weather, '* A man who leaves the world 
when days of this sort are about is a fool ! " 

** That's what I says when I heerd on it ! '* 
said the landlord, and I found that for one 
poor soul at least this world had proved ex- 
cessive, and there had been a throat-cutting. 
I went on with a new twist to my thoughts. 

In the afternoon I had a pleasant sleep in 
a sunny place, and went my way refreshed. 

I came to a comfortable-looking inn near 
Canterbury. It was bright with creepers, and 
the landlady was a clean old woman and took 
my eye. I found I had just enough money 



THE BUILDING OF THE SPHERE 53 

to pay for my lodging with her. I decided 
to stop the night there. She was a talka- 
tive body, and among many other particulars 
I learnt she had never been to London. 
** Canterbury's as far as ever I been," she 
said. " I'm not one of your gad-about sort." 

** How would you like a trip to the moon ? " 
I cried. 

" I never did hold with them ballooneys," 
she said, evidently under the impression that 
this was a common excursion enough. ** I 
wouldn't go up in one — not for ever so." 

This struck me as being funny. After I 
had supped I sat on a bench by the door of 
the inn and gossiped with two labourers about 
brick-making, and motor cars, and the cricket 
of last year. And in the sky a faint new 
crescent, blue and vague as a distant Alp, 
sank westward over the sun. 

The next day I returned to Cavor. ** I am 
coming," I said. " I've been a little out of 
order, that's all." 

That was the only time I felt any serious 
doubt of our enterprise. Nerves purely ! 
After that I worked a little more carefully, 
and took a trudge for an hour every day. 
And at last, save for the heating in the fur- 
nace, our labours were at an end. 



IV 

INSIDE THE SPHERE 

" Go on," said Cavor, as I sat across the edge 
of the manhole and looked down into the 
black interior of the sphere. We two were 
alone. It was evening, the sun had set, and 
the stillness of the twilight was upon every- 
thing. 

I drew my other leg inside and slid down 
the smooth glass to the bottom of the sphere, 
then turned to take the cans of food and 
other impedimenta from Cavor. The interior 
was warm, the thermometer stood at eighty, 
and as we should lose little or none of this 
by radiation, we were dressed in shoes and 
thin flannels. We had, however, a bundle 
of thick woollen clothing and several thick 
blankets to guard against mischance. By 
Cavor s direction I placed the packages, the 
cylinders of oxygen, and so forth, loosely about 
my feet, and soon we had everything in. He 
walked about the roofless shed for a time 

54 




" I sat across the edge of the manhole and looked down into the 

black interior " 



INSIDE THE SPHERE 55 

seeking anything we had overlooked, and 
then crawled in after me. I noted something 
in his hand. 

" What have you got there ? " I asked. 

** Haven't you brought anything to read ? " 

" Good Lord ! No." 

** I forgot to tell you. There are uncer- 
tainties — The voyage may last — We 
may be weeks ! " 

**But " 

** We shall be floating in this sphere with 
absolutely no occupation." 

" I wish I'd known " 

He peered out of the manhole. '* Look ! " 
he said. '* There's something there ! " 

" Is there time ? " 

** We shall be an hour." 

I looked out. It was an old number of Ti^- 
Bits that one of the men must have brought. 
Further away in the corner I saw a torn 
Lloyds News, I scrambled back into the 
sphere with these things. " What have you 
got?'' I said. 

I took the book from his hand and read, 
** The Works of William Shakespeare." 

He coloured slightly. *' My education has 
been so purely scientific — " he said apolo- 
getically. 



56 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** Never read him ? " 

** Never." 

** He knew a little you know — in an irre- 
gular sort of way." 

** Precisely what I am told," said Cavor. 

I assisted him to screw in the glass cover of 
the manhole, and then he pressed a stud to 
close the corresponding blind in the outer case. 
The little oblong of twilight vanished. We 
were in darkness. 

For a time neither of us spoke. Although 
our case would not be impervious to sound, 
everything was very still. I perceived there 
was nothing to grip when the shock of our 
start should come, and I realised that I should 
be uncomfortable for want of a chair. 

" Why have we no chairs .'^ " I asked. 

''I've settled all that," said Cavor. "We 
shan't need them." 

" Why not ? " 

"You vnll see," he said, in the tone of a 
man who refuses to talk. 

I became silent. Suddenly it had come to 
me clear and vivid that I was a fool to be 
inside that sphere. Even now, I asked myself, 
is it too late to withdraw ? The world outside 
the sphere, I knew, would be cold and inhospit- 
able enough to me — for weeks I had been 



INSIDE THE SPHERE 57 

living on subsidies from Cavor — but after all, 
would it be as cold as the infinite zero, as in- 
hospitable as empty space ? If it had not been 
for the appearance of cowardice, I believe that 
even then I should have made him let me out. 
But I hesitated on that score, and hesitated, 
and grew fretful and angry, and the time passed. 

There came a little jerk, a noise like cham- 
pagne being uncorked in another room, and a 
faint whistling sound. For just one instant I 
had a sense of enormous tension, a transient 
conviction that my feet were pressing down- 
ward with a force of countless tons. It lasted 
for an infinitesimal time. 

But it stirred me to action. ** Cavor!" I 
said into the darkness, " my nerve's in rags. 
... I don't think " 

I stopped. He made no answer. 

** Confound it ! " I cried ; *' I'm a fool ! What 
business have I here ? I'm not coming, Cavor. 
The thing's too risky. I'm getting out." 

** You can't," he said. 

" Can't ! We'll soon see about that ! " 

He made no answer for ten seconds. ** It's 
too late for us to quarrel now, Bedford," he 
said. ** That little jerk was the start. Already 
we are flying as swiftly as a bullet up into the 
gulf of space." 



58 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

'* I — " I said, and then it didn't seem to 
matter what happened. For a time I was, as 
it were, stunned ; I had nothing to say. It 
was just as if I had never heard of this idea 
of leaving the world before. Then I per- 
ceived an unaccountable change in my bodily 
sensations. It was a feeling of lightness, of 
unreality. Coupled with that was a queer sen- 
sation in the head, an apoplectic effect almost, 
and a thumping of blood-vessels at the ears. 
Neither of these feelings diminished as time 
went on, but at last I got so used to them that 
I experienced no inconvenience. 

I heard a click, and a little glow lamp came 
into being. 

I saw Cavor's face, as white as I felt my 
own to be. We regarded one another in 
silence. The transparent blackness of the 
glass behind him made him seerii as though 
he floated in a void. 

** Well, we're committed," I said at last. 

"Yes," he said, ** we're committed." 

" Don't move," he exclaimed, at som.e 
suggestion of a gesture. ** Let your muscles 
keep quite lax — as if you were in bed. We 
are in a little universe of our own. Look at 
those things ! " 

He pointed to the loose cases and bundles 



INSIDE THE SPHERE 59 

that had been lying on the blankets in the 
bottom of the sphere. I was astonished to see 
that they were floating now nearly a foot from 
the spherical wall. Then I saw from his 
shadow that Cavor was no longer leaning 
against the glass. I thrust out my hand 
behind me, and found that I too was sus- 
pended in space, clear of the glass. 

I did not cry out nor gesticulate, but fear 
came upon me. It was like being held and 
lifted by something — you know not what. The 
mere touch of my hand against the glass moved 
me rapidly. I understood what had happened, 
but that did not prevent my being afraid. We 
were cut off from all exterior gravitation, only 
the attraction of objects within our sphere had 
effect. Consequently everything that was not 
fixed to the glass was falling — slowly because 
of the slightness of our masses — towards the 
centre of gravity of our little world, which 
seemed to be somewhere about the middle of 
the sphere, but rather nearer to myself than 
Cavor, on account of my greater weight. 

'*We must turn round," said Cavor, "and 
float back to back, with the things between 



us." 



It was the strangest sensation conceivable, 
floating thus loosely in space, at first indeed 



6o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

horribly strange, and when the horror passed, 
not disagreeable at all, exceeding restful ; 
indeed, the nearest thing in earthly experience 
to it that I know is lying on a very thick, soft 
feather bed. But the quality of utter detach- 
ment and independence ! I had not reckoned 
on things like this. I had expected a violent 
jerk at starting, a giddy sense of speed. In- 
stead I felt — as if I were disembodied. It was 
not like the beginning of a journey ; it was like 
the beginning of a dream. 



V 

THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 

Presently Cavor extinguished the light. He 
said we had not overmuch energy stored, and 
that what we had we must economise for read- 
ing. For a time, whether it was long or short 
I do not know, there was nothing but blank 
darkness. 

A question floated up out of the void. 
** How are we pointing?" I said. '* What is 
our direction ? " 

"We are flying away from the earth at a 
tangent, and as the moon is near her third 
quarter we are going somewhere towards her. 
I will open a blind " 

Came a click, and then a window in the 
outer case yawned open. The sky outside 
was as black as the darkness within the sphere, 
but the shape of the open window was marked 
by an infinite number of stars. 

Those who have only seen the starry sky 
from the earth cannot imagine its appearance 

6i 



62 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

when the vague half-luminous veil of our air has 
been withdrawn. The stars we see on earth are 
the mere scattered survivors that penetrate our 
misty atmosphere. But now at last I could 
realise the meaning of the hosts of heaven ! 

Stranger things we were presently to see, 
but that airless, star-dusted sky ! Of all things, 
I think that will be one of the last I shall forget. 

The litde window vanished with a click, 
another beside it snapped open and instantly 
closed, and then a third, and for a moment I 
had to close my eyes because of the blinding 
splendour of the waning moon. 

For a space I had to stare at Cavor and the 
white-lit things about me to season my eyes to 
light again, before I could turn them towards 
that pallid glare. 

Four windows were open in order that the 
gravitation of the moon might act upon all 
the substances in our sphere. I found I was 
no longer floating freely in space, but that my 
feet were resting on the glass in the direction 
of the moon. The blankets and cases of pro- 
visions were also creeping slowly down the 
glass, and presendy came to rest so as to block 
out a portion of the view. It seemed to me, of 
course, that I looked '' down " when I looked 
at the moon. On earth *'down" means earth- 



THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 6^ 

ward, the way things fall, and ** up " the reverse 
direction. Now the pull of gravitation was 
towards the moon, and for all I knew to the 
contrary our earth was overhead. And, of 
course, when all the Cavorite blinds were 
closed, **down" was towards the centre of our 
sphere, and **up" towards its outer wall. 

It was curiously unlike earthly experience, 
too, to have the light coming up to one. On 
earth light falls from above, or comes slant- 
ing down sideways, but here it came from be- 
neath our feet, and to see our shadows we 
had to look up. 

At first it gave me a sort of vertigo to 
stand only on thick glass and look down upon 
the moon through hundreds of thousands of 
miles of vacant space ; but this sickness passed 
very speedily. And then — the splendour of the 
sight ! 

The reader may imagine it best if he will 
lie on the ground some warm summer's night 
and look between his upraised feet at the 
moon, but for some reason, probably because 
the absence of air made it so much more 
luminous, the moon seemed already consider- 
ably larger than it does from earth. The 
minutest details of its surface were acutely 
clear. And since we did not see it through 



64 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

air, its outline was bright and sharp, there was 
no glow or halo about it, and the star-dust 
that covered the sky came right to its very- 
margin, and marked the outline of its un- 
illuminated part. And as I stood and stared 
at the moon between my feet, that perception 
of the impossible that had been with me off 
and on ever since our start, returned again 
with tenfold conviction. 

*'Cavor," I said, "this takes me queerly. 
Those companies we were going to run, and 
all that about minerals?" 

-Well?" 

" I don't see em here." 

*' No," said Cavor ; " but you'll get over all 

that." 

*' I suppose I'm made to turn right side up 
again. Still, ^kis — For a moment I could 
half believe there never was a world." 

** That copy of Lloyds News might help you." 
I stared at the paper for a moment, then 
held it above the level of my face, and found 
I could read it quite easily. I struck a column 
of mean little advertisements. " A gentleman 
of private means is willing to lend money," I 
read. I knew that gentleman. Then some- 
body eccentric wanted to sell a Cutaway bicycle, 
** quite new and cost ;^is/' for five pounds; 



THE JOURNEY TO THE MOON 65 

and a lady in distress wished to dispose of some 
fish knives and forks, " a wedding present," at 
a great sacrifice. No doubt some simple soul 
was sagely examining these knives and forks, 
and another triumphantly riding off on that 
bicycle, and a third trustfully consulting that 
benevolent gentleman of means even as I read. 
I laughed, and let the paper drift from my hand. 

" Are we visible from the earth ? " I asked. 

" Why ? " 

" I knew some one who was rather interested 
in astronomy. It occurred to me that it would 
be rather odd if — my friend — chanced to be 
looking through some telescope." 

*' It would need the most powerful telescope 
on earth even now to see us as the minutest 
speck." 

For a time I stared in silence at the moon. 

" It's a world," I said ; *' one feels that 
infinitely more than one ever did on earth. 
People perhaps " 

"People!" he exclaimed. '' No I Banish 
all that ! Think yourself a sort of ultra-arctic 
voyager exploring the desolate places of space. 
Look at it ! " 

He waved his hand at the shining whiteness 
below. '' It's dead — dead ! Vast extinct 
volcanoes, lava wildernesses, tumbled wastes 

E 



66 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

of snow, or frozen carbonic acid, or frozen air, 
and everywhere landslip seams and cracks and 
gulfs. Nothing happens. Men have watched 
this planet systematically with telescopes for 
over two hundred years. How much change 
do you think they have seen ? " 

" None." 

** They have traced two indisputable land- 
slips, a doubtful crack, and one slight periodic 
change of colour, and that's all." 

" I didn't know they'd traced even that." 

" Oh yes. But as for people ! " 

** By the way," I asked, *' how small a thing 
will the biggest telescopes show upon the 
moon ? " 

** One could see a fair-sized church. One 
could certainly see any towns or buildings, or 
anything like the handiwork of men. There 
might perhaps be insects, something in the 
way of ants, for example, so that they could 
hide in deep burrows from the lunar night, or 
some new sort of creatures having no earthly 
parallel. That is the most probable thing, if 
we are to find life there at all. Think of the 
difference in conditions ! Life must fit itself 
to a day as long as fourteen earthly days, a 
cloudless sun-blaze of fourteen days, and then 
a night of equal length, growing ever colder 



THF. JOURNEY TO THE MOON 67 

and colder under these cold, sharp stars. In 
that night there must be cold, the ultimate 
cold, absolute zero, 273° C. below the earthly- 
freezing point. Whatever life there is must 
hibernate through thaty and rise again each 
day." 

He mused. ** One can imagine something 
worm-like," he said, ** taking its air solid as 
an earth-worm swallows earth, or thick-skinned 



monsters- " 



" By-the-bye," I said, " why didn't we bring 
a gun ? " 

He did not answer that question. ** No," 
he concluded, " we just have to go. We shall 
see when we get there." 

I remembered something. • " Of course, 
there's my minerals, anyhow," I said ; ** what- 
ever the conditions may be." 

Presently he told me he wished to alter our 
course a little by letting the earth tug at us for 
a moment. He was going to open one earth- 
ward blind for thirty seconds. He warned me 
that it would make my head swim, and advised 
me to extend my hands against the glass to 
break my fall. I did as he directed, and thrust 
my feet against the bales of food cases and air 
cylinders Jo prevent their falling upon me. 
Then with a click the window flew open. I fell 



6S THE FIRST MEN IN THE J^ OON 

clumsily upon hands and face, and saw for a 
moment between my black extended fingers 
our mother earth — a planet in a downward sky. 

We were still very near — Cavor told me the 
distance was perhaps eight hundred miles — and 
the huge terrestrial disk filled all heaven. But 
already it was plain to see that the world was a 
globe. The land below us was in twilight and 
vague, but westward the vast grey stretches of 
the Atlantic shone like molten silver under the 
receding day. I think I recognised the cloud- 
dimmed coast-lines of France and Spain and 
the south of England, and then, with a click, 
the shutter closed again, and I found myself in 
a state of extraordinary confusion sliding slowly 
over the smooth glass. 

When at last things settled themselves in my 
mind again, it seemed quite beyond question 
that the moon was '' down " and under my feet, 
and that the earth was somewhere away on the 
level of the horizon — the earth that had been 
" down " to me and my kindred since the 
beginning of things. 

So slight were the exertions required of us, 
so easy did the practical annihilation of our 
weight make all we had to do, that the necessity 
for taking refreshment did not occur to us for 
nearly six hours (by Cavor's chronometer) after 



THE yOURNEY TO THE MOON 69 

our start. I was amazed at that lapse of -time. 
Even then I was satisfied with very little. 
Cavor examined the apparatus for absorbing 
carbonic acid and water, and pronounced it to 
be in satisfactory order, our consumption of 
oxygen having been extraordinarily slight. And 
our talk being exhausted for the time, and 
there being nothing further for us to do, we 
gave way to a curious drowsiness that had 
come upon us, and spreading our blankets on 
the bottom of the sphere in such a manner as 
to shut out most of the moonlight, wished each 
other good-night, and almost immediately fell 
asleep. 

And so, sleeping, and sometimes talking and 
reading a little, and at times eating, although 
without any keenness of appetite,^ but for the 
most part in a sort of quiescence that was 
neither waking nor slumber, we fell through a 
space of time that had neither night nor day in 
it, silently, softly, and swiftly down towards the 
moon. 

^ It is a curious thing, that while we were in the sphere we 
felt not the slightest desire for food, nor did we feel the want 
of it when we abstained. At first we forced our appetites, but 
afterwards we fasted completely. Altogether we did not con- 
sume one-hundredth part of the compressed provisions we had 
brought with us. The amount of carbonic acid we breathed 
was also unnaturally low, but why this was so I am quite unable 
to explain. 



VI 

THE LANDING ON THE MOON 

I REMEMBER how One day Cavor suddenly 
opened six of our shutters and blinded me so 
that I cried aloud at him. The whole area was 
moon, a stupendous scimitar of white dawn with 
its edge hacked out by notches of darkness, the 
crescent shore of an ebbing tide of darkness, out 
of which peaks and pinnacles came climbing into 
the blaze of the sun. I take it the reader has 
seen pictures or photographs of the moon, so 
that I need not describe the broader features of 
that landscape, those spacious ringlike ranges 
vaster than any terrestrial mountains, their sum- 
mits shining in the day, their shadows harsh 
and deep, the grey disordered plains, the ridges, 
hills, and craterlets, all passing at last from a 
blazing illumination into a common mystery of 
black. Athwart this world we were flying 
scarcely a hundred miles above its crests and 
pinnacles. And now we could see, what no eye 

on earth will ever see, that under the blaze of 

70 



THE LANDING ON THE MOON 71 

the day the harsh outlines of the rocks and 
ravines of the plains and crater floor grew grey 
and indistinct under a thickening haze, that the 
white of their lit surfaces broke into lumps and 
patches, and broke again and shrank and 
vanished, and that here and there strange tints 
of brown and olive grew and spread. 

But little time we had for watching then. 
For now we had come to the real danger of our 
journey. We had to drop ever closer to the 
moon as we spun about it, to slacken our pace 
and watch our chance, until at last we could 
dare to drop upon its surface. 

For Cavor that was a time of intense exer- 
tion ; for me it was an anxious inactivity. I 
seemed perpetually to be getting out of his way. 
He leapt about the sphere from point to point 
with an agility that would have been impossible 
on earth. He was perpetually opening and 
closing the Cavorite windows, making calcula- 
tions, consulting his chronometer by means of 
the glow lamp during those last eventful hours. 
For a long time we had all our windows closed 
and hung silently in darkness, hurling through 
space. 

Then he was feeling for the shutter studs, 
and suddenly four windows were open. I 
staggered and qovered my eyes, drenched and 



72 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

scorched and blinded by the unaccustomed 
splendour of the sun beneath my feet. Then 
again the shutters snapped, leaving my brain 
spinning in a darkness that pressed against the 
eyes. And after that I floated in another vast, 
black silence. 

Then Cavor switched on the electric light, 
and told me he proposed to bind all our luggage 
together with the blankets about it, against the 
concussion of our descent. We did this with 
our windows closed, because in that way our 
goods arranged themselves naturally at the 
centre of the sphere. That too was a strange 
business ; we two men floating loose in that 
spherical space, and packing and pulling ropes. 
Imagine it if you can ! No up nor down, and 
every effort resulting in unexpected movements. 
Now I would be pressed against the glass with 
the full force of Cavor's thrust, now I would be 
kicking helplessly in a void. Now the star of 
the electric light would be overhead, now under 
foot. Now Cavor's feet would float up before 
my eyes, and now we would be crossways to 
each other. But at last our goods were safely 
bound together in a big soft bale, all except two 
blankets with head holes that we were to wrap 
about ourselves. 

Then for a flash Cavor opened a window 



THE LANDING ON THE MOON 73 

moonward, and we saw that we were dropping 
towards a huge central crater with a number of 
minor craters grouped in a sort of cross about 
it. And then again Cavor flung our little sphere 
open to the scorching, blinding sun. I think 
he was using the sun's attraction as a brake. 
** Cover yourself with a blanket," he cried, 
thrusting himself from me, and for a moment I 
did not understand. 

Then I hauled the blanket from beneath my 
feet and got it about me and over my head and 
eyes. Abruptly he closed the shutters again, 
snapped one open again and closed it, then 
suddenly began snapping them all open, each 
safely into its steel roller. There came a jar, 
and then we were rolling over and over, bump- 
ing against the glass and against the big bale 
of our luggage, and clutching at each other, and 
outside some white substance splashed as if we 
were rolling down a slope of snow. . . . 

Over, clutch, bump, clutch, bump, over. . . . 

Came a thud, and I was half buried under 
the bale of our possessions, and for a space 
everything was still. Then I could hear Cavor 
puffing and grunting, and the snapping of a 
shutter in its sash. I made an effort, thrust 
back our blanket-wrapped luggage, and emerged 
from beneath it. Our open windows were 



74 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

just visible as a deeper black set with 
stars. 

We were still alive, and we were lying in the 
darkness of the shadow of the wall of the great 
crater into which we had fallen. 

We sat getting our breath again, and feeling 
the bruises on our limbs. I don't think either 
of us had had a very clear expectation of such 
rough handling as we had received. I struggled 
painfully to my feet. ''And now," said I, "to 
look at the landscape of the moon ! But — .! 
It's tremendously dark, Cavor ! " 

The glass was dewy, and as I spoke I wiped 
at it with my blanket. *' We're half-an-hour or 
so beyond the day," he said. ** We must wait." 

It was impossible to distinguish anything. 
We might have been in a sphere of steel for 
all that we could see. My rubbing with the 
blanket simply smeared the glass, and as fast 
as I wiped it, it became opaque again with 
freshly condensed moisture mixed with an in- 
creasing quantity of blanket hairs. Of course 
I ought not to have used the blanket. In my 
efforts to clear the glass I slipped upon the 
damp surface, and hurt my shin against one of 
the oxygen cylinders that protruded from our 
bale. 

The thing was exasperating — it was absurd. 



THE LANDING ON THE MOON 75 

Here we were just arrived upon the moon, 
amidst we knew not what wonders, and all 
we could see was the grey and streaming 
wall of the bubble in which we had come. 

" Confound it ! " I said, *' but at this rate 
we might have stopped at home ; " and I 
squatted on the bale and shivered, and drew 
my blanket closer about me. 

Abruptly the moisture turned to spangles 
and fronds of frost. *' Can you reach the 
electric heater," said Cavor. " Yes — that 
black knob. Or we shall freeze." 

I did not wait to be told twice. ** And 
now," said I, ** what are we to do?" 

*' Wait, "he said. 

"Wait.?" 

"Of course. We shall have to wait unti^l 
our air gets warm again, and then this glass 
will clear. We can't do anything till then. 
It's night here yet ; we must wait for the day to 
overtake us. Meanwhile, don't you feel hungry ? 

For a space I did not answer him, but sat 
fretting. I turned reluctantly from the smeared 
puzzle of the glass and stared at his face. 
" Yes," I said, " I am hungry. I feel some- 
how enormously disappointed. I had ex- 
pected — I don't know what I had expected, 
but not this." 



76 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I summoned my philosophy, and rearranging 
my blanket about me sat down on the bale 
again and began my first meal on the moon. 
I don't think I finished it — I forget. Presently, 
first in patches, then running rapidly together 
into wider spaces, came the clearing of the 
glass, came the drawing of the misty veil that 
hid the moon world from our eyes. 

We peered out upon the landscape of the 
moon. 



VII 

SUNRISE ON THE MOON 

As we saw it first it was the wildest and most 
desolate of scenes. We were in an enormous 
amphitheatre, a vast circular plain, the floor 
of the giant crater. Its cliff-like walls closed 
us in on every side. From the Westward the 
light of the unseen sun fell upon them, reach- 
ing to the very foot of the cliff,' and showed 
a disordered escarpment of drab and greyish 
rock, lined here and there with banks and 
crevices of snow. This was perhaps a dozen 
miles away, but at first no intervening atmos- 
phere diminished in the slightest the minutely 
detailed brilliancy with which these things 
glared at us. They stood out clear and 
dazzling against a background of starry black- 
ness that seemed to our earthly eyes rather 
a gloriously spangled velvet curtain than the 
spaciousness of the sky. 

The eastward cliff was at first merely a 
starless selvedge to the starry dome. No 

77 



78 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

rosy flush, no creeping pallor, announced the 
commencing day. Only the Corona, the 
Zodiacal light, a huge cone-shaped, luminous 
haze, pointing up towards the splendour of 
the morning star, warned us of the imminent 
nearness of the sun. 

Whatever light was about us was reflected 
by the westward cliffs. It showed a huge 
undulating plain, cold and grey, a grey that 
deepened eastward into the absolute raven 
darkness of the cliff shadow. Innumerable 
rounded grey summits, ghostly hummocks, 
billows of snowy substance, stretching crest 
beyond crest into the remote obscurity, gave 
us our first inkling of the distance of the crater 
wall. These hummocks looked like snow. 
At the time I thought they were snow. But 
they were not — they were mounds and masses 
of frozen air ! 

So it was at first, and then, sudden, swift, 
and amazing, came the lunar day. 

The sunlight had crept down the cliff, it 
touched the drifted masses at its base and 
incontinently came striding with seven-leagued 
boots towards us. The distant cliff seemed to 
shift and quiver, and at the touch of the dawn 
a reek of grey vapour poured upward from 
the crater floor, whirls and puffs and drifting 



SUNRISE ON THE MOON 79 

wraiths of grey, thicker and broader and 
denser, until at last the whole westward plain 
was steaming like a wet handkerchief held 
before the fire, and the westward cliffs were 
no more than a refracted glare beyond. 

** It is air," said Cavor. ** It must be air — 
or it would not rise like this — at the mere 
touch of a sunbeam. And at this pace. ..." 

He peered upwards. ** Look ! " he said. 

** What ? " I asked. 

" In the sky. Already. On the blackness 
— a little touch of blue. See ! The stars 
seem larger. And the little ones and all 
those dim nebulosities we saw in empty space 
— they are hidden ! " 

Swiftly, steadily the day approached us. 
Grey summit after grey summit was overtaken 
by the blaze, and turned to a smoking white 
intensity. At last there was nothing to the 
west of us but a bank of surging fog, the 
tumultuous advance and ascent of cloudy haze. 
The distant cliff had receded further and further, 
had loomed and changed through the whirl, and 
foundered and vanished at last in its confusion. 

Nearer came that steaming advance, nearer 
and nearer, coming as fast as the shadow of 
a cloud before the south-west wind. About 
us rose a thin anticipatory haze. 



8o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Cavor gripped my arm. 

" What ? " I said.' 

" Look ! The sunrise ! The sun ! " 

He turned me about and pointed to the brow 
of the eastward cliff, looming above the haze 
about us, scarce lighter than the darkness of 
the sky. But now its line was marked by 
strange reddish shapes, tongues of vermilion 
flame that writhed and danced. I fancied it 
must be spirals of vapour that had caught the 
light and made this crest of fiery tongues 
against the sky, but indeed it was the solar 
prominences I saw, a crown of fire about the 
sun that is forever hidden from earthly eyes by 
our atmospheric veil. 

And then — the sun ! 

Steadily, inevitably came a brilliant line, 
came a thin edge of intolerable effulgence that 
took a circular shape, became a bow, became a 
blazing sceptre, and hurled a shaft of heat at 
us as though it was a spear. 

It seemed verily to stab my eyes ! I cried 
aloud and turned about blinded, groping for 
my blanket beneath the bale. 

And with that incandescence came a sound, 
the first sound that had reached us from with- 
out since we left the earth, a hissing and rust- 
ling, the stormy trailing of the aerial garment 



SUNRISE ON THE MOON 8i 

of the advancing day. And with the coming 
of the sound and the light the sphere lurched, 
and blinded and dazzled we staggered help- 
lessly against each other. It lurched again, 
and the hissing grew louder. I had shut my 
eyes perforce, I was making clumsy efforts to 
cover my head with my blanket, and this 
second lurch sent me helplessly off my feet. 
I fell against the bale, and opening my eyes 
had a momentary glimpse of the air just out- 
side our glass. It was running — it was boiling 
— like snow into which a white-hot rod is thrust. 
What had been solid air had suddenly at the 
touch of the sun become a paste, a mud, a 
slushy liquefaction, that hissed and bubbled 
into gas. 

There came a still more violent whirl of the 
sphere, and we had clutched one another. In 
another moment we were spun about again. 
Round we went and over, and then I was on 
all fours. The lunar dawn had hold of us. It 
meant to show us little men what the moon 
could do with us. 

I caught a second glimpse of things without, 
puffs of vapour, half-liquid slush, excavated, 
sliding, falling, sliding. We dropped into 
darkness. I went down with Cavor's knees 
in my chest. Then he seemed to fly away 

F 



82 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

from me, and for a moment I lay with all the 
breath out of my body staring upward. A 
toppling crag of the melting stuff had splashed 
over us, buried us, and now it thinned and 
boiled off us. I saw the bubbles dancing on 
the glass above. I heard Cavor exclaiming 
feebly. 

Then some huge landslip in the thawing air 
had caught us, and spluttering expostulation, 
we began to roll down a slope, rolling faster 
and faster, leaping crevasses and rebounding 
from banks, faster and faster, westward into 
the white-hot boiling tumult of the lunar day. 

Clutching at one another we spun about, 
pitched this way and that, our bale of pack- 
ages leaping at us, pounding at us. We col- 
lided, we gripped, we were torn asunder — our 
heads met, and the whole universe burst into 
fiery darts and stars ! On the earth we should 
have smashed one another a dozen times, but 
on the moon, luckily for us, our weight was 
only one-sixth of what it is terrestrially, and we 
fell very mercifully. I recall a sensation of 
utter sickness, a feeling as if my brain were 
upside down within my skull, and then 

Something was at work upon my face, some 
thin feelers worried my ears. Then I dis- 



SUNRISE ON THE MOON 83 

covered the brilliance of the landscape around 
was mitigated by blue spectacles. Cavor bent 
over me, and I saw his face upside down, his 
eyes also protected by tinted goggles. His 
breath came irregularly, and his lip was bleed- 
ing from a bruise. " Better ? " he said, wiping 
the blood with the back of his hand. 

Everything seemed swaying for a space, but 
that was simply my giddiness. I perceived 
that he had closed some of the shutters in the 
outer sphere to save me from the direct blaze 
of the sun. I was aware that everything about 
us was very brilliant. 

/* Lord ! " I gasped. '' But this ! " 

I craned my neck to see. I perceived there 
was a blinding glare outside, an utter change 
from the gloomy darkness of our first impres- 
sions. ** Have I been Insensible long ? " I 
asked. 

** I don't know — the chronometer is broken. 
Some little time. . . . My dear chap ! I have 
been afraid. . . ." 

I lay for a space taking this in. I saw his 
face still bore evidences of emotion. For a 
while I said nothing. I passed an inquisitive 
hand over my contusions, and surveyed his face 
for similar damages. The back of my right 
hand had suffered most, and was skinless and 



84 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

raw. My forehead was bruised and had bled. 
He handed me a little measure with some of 
the restorative — I forget the name of it — he 
had brought with us. After a time I felt a 
little better. I began to stretch my limbs 
carefully. Soon I could talk. 

"It wouldn't have done," I said, as though 
there had been no interval. 

" No ! it wouldnL" 

He thought, his hands hanging over his 
knees. He peered through the glass and 
then stared at me. *' Good Lord ! " he said. 
''No!" 

" What has happened ? " I asked after a 
pause. " Have we jumped to the tropics ? " 

"It was as I expected. This air has eva- 
porated — if it is air. At any rate, it has 
evaporated and the surface of the moon is 
showing. We are lying on a bank of earthy 
rock. Here and there bare soil is exposed. 
A queer sort of soil ! " 

It occurred to him that it was unnecessary 
to explain. He assisted me into a sitting 
position, and I could see with my own eyes. 



VIII 

A LUNAR MORNING 

The harsh emphasis, the pitiless black and 
white of the scenery had altogether disappeared. 
The glare of the sun had taken upon itself a 
faint tinge of amber ; the shadows upon the 
cliff of the crater wall were deeply purple. To 
the eastward a dark bank of fog still crouched 
and sheltered from the sunrise, but to the west- 
ward the sky was blue and clear. I began to 
realise the length of my insensibility. 

We were no longer in a void. An atmos- 
phere had arisen about us. The outline of 
things had gained in character, had grown 
acute and varied ; save for a shadowed space 
of white substance here and there, white sub- 
stance that was no longer air but snow, the 
arctic appearance had gone altogether. Every- 
where broad rusty brown spaces of bare and 
tumbled earth spread to the blaze of the sun. 
Here and there at the edge of the snowdrifts 
were transient little pools and eddies of water, 

8s 



86 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

the only things stirring in that expanse of 
barrenness. The sunlight inundated the upper 
two blinds of our sphere and turned our 
climate to high summer, but our feet were still 
in shadow, and the sphere was lying upon a 
drift of snow. 

And scattered here and there upon the slope, 
and emphasised by little white threads of un- 
thawed snow upon their shady sides, were 
shapes like sticks, dry twisted sticks of the 
same rusty hue as the rock upon which they 
lay. That caught one's thoughts sharply. 
Sticks! On a lifeless world? Then as my 
eye grew more accustomed to the texture of 
their substance, I perceived that almost all this 
surface had a fibrous texture, like the carpet 
of brown needles one finds beneath the shade 
of pine trees. 

" Cavor ! " I said. 

-Yes." 

*' It may be a dead world now — but 
once " 

Something arrested my attention. I had 
discovered among these needles a number of 
little round objects. And it seemed to me that 
one of these had moved. 

** Cavor," I whispered. 

*' What ? " 




We watched intensely " 



A LUNAR MORNING 87 

But I did not answer at once. I stared in- 
credulous. For an instant I could not believe 
my eyes. I gave an inarticulate cry. I gripped 
his arm. I pointed. ** Look ! " I cried, finding 
my tongue. " There ! Yes I And there ! " 

H is eyes followed my pointing finger. * * E h ? " 
he said. 

How can I describe the thing I saw } It is 
so petty a thing to state, and yet it seemed so 
wonderful, so pregnant with emotion. I have 
said that amidst the stick-like litter were these 
rounded bodies, these little oval bodies that 
might have passed as very small pebbles. And 
now first one and then another had stirred, had 
rolled over and cracked, and down the crack of 
each of them showed a minute line of yellowish 
green, thrusting outward to meet the hot en- 
couragement of the newly-risen sun. For a 
moment that was all, and then there stirred 
and burst a third ! 

"It is a seed," said Cavor. And then I 
heard him whisper very softly, '' Life !'' 

" Life ! " And immediately it poured upon 
us that our vast journey had not been made 
in vain, that we had come to no arid waste 
of minerals, but to a world that lived and 
moved ! We watched intensely. I remember 
I kept rubbing the glass before me with 



88 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

my sleeve, jealous of the faintest suspicion of 
mist. 

The picture was clear and vivid only in the 
middle of the field. All about that centre the 
dead fibres and seeds were magnified and dis- 
torted by the curvature of the glass. But we 
could see enough ! One after another all down 
the sunlit slope these miraculous little brown 
bodies burst and gaped apart, like seed-pods, 
like the husks of fruits ; opened eager mouths 
that drank in the heat and light pouring in a 
cascade from the newly-risen sun. 

Every moment more of these seed coats 
ruptured, and even as they did so the swelling 
pioneers overflowed their rent-distended seed- 
cases, and passed into the second stage of 
growth. With a steady assurance, a swift de- 
liberation, these amazing seeds thrust a rootlet 
downward to the earth and a queer little bundle- 
like bud into the air. In a little while the 
whole slope was dotted with minute plantlets 
standing at attention in the blaze of the sun. 

They did not stand for long. The bundle- 
like buds swelled and strained and opened with 
a jerk, thrusting out a coronet of little sharp 
tips, spreading a whorl of tiny, spiky, brownish 
leaves, that lengthened rapidly, lengthened 
visibly even as we watched. The movement 



A LUNAR MORNING 89 

was slower than any animal's, swifter than any 
plant's I have ever seen before. How can I 
suggest it to you — the way that growth went 
on? The leaf tips grew so that they moved 
onward even while we looked at them. The 
brown seed-case shrivelled and was absorbed 
with an equal rapidity. Have you ever on 
a cold day taken a thermometer Into your 
warm hand and watched the little thread of 
mercury creep up the tube ? These moon 
plants grew like that. 

In a few minutes, as it seemed, the buds of 
the more forward of these plants had lengthened 
into a stem and were even putting forth a 
second whorl of leaves, and all the slope that 
had seemed so recently a lifeless stretch of 
litter was now dark with the stunted olive- 
green herbage of bristling spikes that swayed 
with the vigour of their growing. 

I turned about, and behold ! along the upper 
edge of a rock to the eastward a similar fringe 
in a scarcely less forward condition swayed 
and bent, dark against the blinding glare of 
the sun. And beyond this fringe was the 
silhouette of a plant mass, branching clumsily 
like a cactus, and swelling visibly, swelling like 
a bladder that fills with air. 

Then to the westward also I discovered that 



90 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

another such distended form was rising over 
the scrub. But here the light fell upon its 
sleek sides, and I could see that its colour was a 
vivid orange hue. It rose as one watched it ; if 
one looked away from it for a minute and then 
back, its outline had changed ; it thrust out 
blunt congested branches until in a little time 
it rose a coralline shape of many feet in height. 
Compared with such a growth the terrestrial 
puff-ball, which will sometimes swell a foot in 
diameter in a single night, would be a hopeless 
laggard. But then the puff-ball grows against 
a gravitational pull six times that of the moon. 
Beyond, out of gullies and flats that had been 
hidden from us, but not from the quickening 
sun, over reefs and banks of shining rock, a 
bristling beard of spiky and fleshy vegetation 
was straining into view, hurrying tumultuously 
to take advantage of the brief day in which it 
must flower and fruit and seed again and die. 
It was like a miracle, that growth. So, one 
must imagine, the trees and plants arose at 
the Creation and covered the desolation of the 
new-made earth. 

Imagine it ! Imagine that dawn ! The re- 
surrection of the frozen air, the stirring and 
quickening of the soil, and then this silent 
uprising of vegetation, this unearthly ascent of 



A LUNAR MORNING 91 

fleshiness and spikes. Conceive it all lit by a 
blaze that would make the intensest sunlight of 
earth seem watery and weak. And still around 
this stirring jungle, wherever there was shadow, 
lingered banks of bluish snow. And to have the 
picture of our impression complete, you must 
bear in mind that we saw it all through a thick 
bent glass, distorting it as things are distorted 
by a lens, acute only in the centre of the picture, 
and very bright there, and towards the edges 
magnified and unreal. 



IX 

PROSPECTING BEGINS 

We ceased to gaze. We turned to each other, 
the same thought, the same question in our 
eyes. For these plants to grow, there must be 
some air, however attenuated, air that we also 
should be able to breathe. 

" The manhole ? " I said. 

" Yes ! " said Cavor, ** if it is air we see ! " 

" In a little while," I said, "these plants will 
be as high as we are. Suppose — suppose after 
all — Is it certain ? How do you know that 
stuff is air."* It may be nitrogen — it may be 
carbonic acid even ! " 

** That is easy," he said, and set about proving 
it. He produced a big piece of crumpled paper 
from the bale, lit it, and thrust it hastily through 
the manhole valve. I bent forward and peered 
down through the thick glass for its appearance 
outside, that little flame on whose evidence de- 
pended so much ! 

I saw the paper drop out and lie lightly upon 



92 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 93 

the snow. The pink flame of its burning 
vanished. For an instant it seemed to be 
extinguished. And then I saw a little blue 
tongue upon the edge of it that trembled, and 
crept, and spread ! 

Quietly the whole sheet, save where it lay in 
immediate contact with the snow, charred and 
shrivelled and sent up a quivering thread oi 
smoke. There was no doubt left to me ; the 
atmosphere of the moon was either pure oxygen 
or air, and capable therefore — unless its tenuity 
was excessive — of supporting our alien life. 
We might emerge — and live ! 

I sat down with my legs on either side of 
the manhole and prepared to unscrew it, but 
Cavor stopped me. " There is first a little 
precaution," he said. He pointed out that 
although it was certainly an oxygenated atmos- 
phere outside, it might still be so rarified as to 
cause us grave injury. He reminded me of 
mountain sickness, and of the bleeding that 
often afflicts aeronauts who have ascended too 
swiftly, and he spent some time in the prepara- 
tion of a sickly-tasting drink which he insisted 
on my sharing. It made me feel a little numb, 
but otherwise had no effect on me. Then he 
permitted me to begin unscrewing. 

Presently the glass stopper of the manhole 



94 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

was so far undone that the denser air within 
our sphere began to escape along the thread 
of the screw, singing as a kettle sings before it 
boils. Thereupon he made me desist. It 
speedily became evident that the pressure out- 
side was very much less than it was within. 
How much less it was we had no means of 
telling. 

I sat grasping the stopper with both hands, 
ready to close it again if, in spite of our intense 
hope, the lunar atmosphere should after all 
prove too rarified for us, and Cavor sat with 
a cylinder of compressed oxygen at hand to 
restore our pressure. We looked at one 
another in silence, and then at the fantastic 
vegetation that swayed and grew visibly and 
noiselessly without. And ever that shrill 
piping continued. 

My blood-vessels began to throb in my ears, 
and the sound of Cavor's movements diminished. 
I noted how still everything had become, be- 
cause of the thinning of the air. 

As our air sizzled out from the screw the 
moisture of it condensed in little puffs. 

Presently I experienced a peculiar shortness 
of breath, that lasted indeed during the whole 
of the time of our exposure to the moon's 
exterior atmosphere, and a rather unpleasant 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 95 

sensation about the ears and finger-nails and 
the back of the throat grew upon my attention, 
and presently passed off again. 

But then came vertigo and nausea that 
abruptly changed the quality of my courage. I 
gave the lid of the manhole half a turn and 
made a hasty explanation to Cavor ; but now 
he was the more sanguine. He answered me 
in a voice that seemed extraordinarily small 
and remote, because of the thinness of the air 
that carried the sound. He recommended a 
nip of brandy, and set me the example, and 
presently I felt better. I turned the manhole 
stopper back again. The throbbing in my ears 
grew louder, and then I remarked that the 
piping note of the outrush had ceased. For a 
time I could not be sure that it had ceased. 

'* Well ? " said Cavor in the ghost of a voice. 

"Well?" said I. 

** Shall we go on ? " 

I thought. "Is this all?" 

" If you can stand it." 

By way of answer I went on unscrewing. I 
lifted the circular operculum from its place and 
laid it carefully on the bale. A flake or so of 
snow whirled and vanished as that thin and 
unfamiliar air took possession of our sphere. I 
knelt, and then seated myself at the edge of the 



96 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

manhole, peering over it. Beneath, within a 
yard of my face, lay the untrodden snow of the 
moon. 

There came a little pause. Our eyes met. 

" It doesn't distress your lungs too much ? " 
said Cavor. 

*' No," I said. " I can stand this." 

He stretched out his hand for his blanket, 
thrust his head through its central hole and 
wrapped it about him. He sat down on the 
edge of the manhole, he let his feet drop until 
they were within six inches of the lunar ground. 
He hesitated for a moment, then thrust himself 
forward, dropped these intervening inches, and 
stood upon the untrodden soil of the moon. 

As he stepped forward he was refracted 
grotesquely by the edge of the glass. He 
stood, for a moment looking this way and that. 
Then he drew himself together and leapt. 

The glass distorted everything, but it seemed 
to me even then to be an extremely big leap. 
He had at one bound become remote. He 
seemed twenty or thirty feet off. He was 
standing high upon a rocky mass and gesticu- 
lating back to me. Perhaps he was shouting 
— but the sound did not reach me. But how 
the deuce had he done this ? I felt like a man 
who has just seen a new conjuring trick. 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 97 

In a puzzled state of mind I too dropped 
through the manhole. I stood up. Just in 
front of me the snowdrift had fallen away and 
made a sort of ditch. I made a step and 
jumped. 

I found myself flying through the air, saw 
the rock on which he stood coming to meet 
me, clutched it and clung in a state of infinite 
amazement. 

I gasped a painful laugh. I was tremen- 
dously confused. Cavor bent down and shouted 
in piping tones for me to be careful. 

I had forgotten that on the moon, with only 
an eighth part of the earth's mass and a quarter 
of its diameter, my weight was barely a sixth 
what it was on earth. But now that fact in- 
sisted on being remembered. 

" We are out of Mother Earth's leading- 
strings now," he said. 

With a guarded effort I raised myself to the 
top, and moving as cautiously as a rheumatic 
patient, stood up beside him under the blaze 
of the sun. The sphere lay behind us on its 
dwindling snowdrift thirty feet away. 

As far as the eye could see over the enor- 
mous disorder of rocks that formed the crater 
floor, the same bristling scrub that surrounded 
us was starting into life, diversified here and 

G 



98 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

there by bulging masses of a cactus form, and 
scarlet and purple lichens that grew so fast they 
seemed to crawl over the rocks. The whole 
area of the crater seemed to me then to be one 
similar wilderness up to the very foot of the 
surrounding cliff. 

This cliff was apparently bare of vegetation 
save at its base, and with buttresses and ter- 
races and platforms that did not very greatly 
attract our attention at the time. It was many 
miles away from us in every direction, we 
seemed to be almost at the centre of the crater, 
and we saw it through a certain haziness that 
drove before the wind. For there was even a 
wind now in the thin air, a swift yet weak wind 
that chilled exceedingly but exerted little pres- 
sure. It was blowing round the crater, as it 
seemed, to the hot illuminated side from the 
foggy darkness under the sunward wall. It 
was difficult to look into this eastward fog ; we 
had to peer with half-closed eyes beneath the 
shade of our hands, because of the fierce in- 
tensity of the motionless sun. 

** It seems to be deserted," said Cavor, "ab- 
solutely desolate." 

I looked about me again. I retained even 
then a clinging hope of some quasi-human evi- 
dence, some pinnacle of building, some house 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 99 

or engine, but everywhere one looked spread 
the tumbled rocks in peaks and crests, and the 
darting scrub and those bulging cacti that 
swelled and swelled, a flat negation as it 
seemed of all such hope. 

** It looks as though these plants had it to 
themselves," I said. " I see no trace of any 
other creature." 

"No insects — no birds — no ! Not a trace, 
not a scrap nor particle of animal life. If there 
was — what would they do in the night.'* . . . 
No ; there's just these plants alone." 

I shaded my eyes with my hand. " It's like 
the landscape of a dream. These things are 
less like earthly land plants than the things 
one imagines among the rocks at the bottom 
of the sea. Look at that yonder ! One might 
imagine it a lizard changed into a plant. And 
the glare ! " 

" This is only the fresh morning," said 
Cavor. 

He sighed and looked about him. " This is 
no world for men," he said. " And yet in a 
way — it appeals." 

He became silent for a time, then commenced 
his meditative humming. 

I started at a gentle touch, and found a thin 
sheet of livid lichen lapping over my shoe. I 



loo THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

kicked at it and it fell to powder, and each 
speck began to grow. 

I heard Cavor exclaim sharply, and per- 
ceived that one of the fixed bayonets of the 
scrub had pricked him. 

He hesitated, his eyes sought among the 
rocks about us. A sudden blaze of pink had 
crept up a ragged pillar of crag. It was a most 
extraordinary pink, a livid magenta. 

** Look ! " said I, turning, and behold Cavor 
had vanished ! 

For an instant I stood transfixed. Then I 
made a hasty step to look over the verge of 
the rock. But in my surprise at his disap- 
pearance I forgot once more that we were on 
the moon. The thrust of my foot that I made 
in striding would have carried me a yard on 
earth ; on the moon it carried me six — a good 
five yards over the edge. For the moment 
the thing had something of the effect of those 
nightmares when one falls and falls. For while 
one falls sixteen feet in the first second of a fall 
on earth, on the moon one falls two, and with 
only a sixth of one's weight. I fell, or rather 
I jumped down, about ten yards I suppose. It 
seemed to take quite a long time, five or six 
seconds, I should think. I floated through the 
air and fell like a feather, knee-deep in a snow- 




" I realised my leap had been too violent 



PROSPECTING BEGINS loi 

drift in the bottom of a gully of blue-grey, 
white-veined rock. ^ 

I looked about me. ** Cavor ! " I cried ; but 
no Cavor was visible. 

'' Cavor ! " I cried louder, and the rocks 
echoed me. 

I turned fiercely to the rocks and clambered 
to the summit of them. *' Cavor!" I cried. 
My voice sounded like the voice of a lost lamb. 

The sphere, too, was not in sight, and for a 
moment a horrible feeling of desolation pinched 
my heart. 

Then I saw him. He was laughing and 
gesticulating to attract my attention. He was 
on a bare patch of rock twenty or thirty yards 
away. I could not hear his voice, but "jump" 
said his gestures. I hesitated, the distance 
seemed enormous. Yet I reflected that surely 
I must be able to clear a greater distance than 
Cavor. 

I made a step back, gathered myself to- 
gether, and leapt with ' ■ my might. I seemed 
to shoot right up in the air as though I should 
never come down. . . . 

It was horrible and delightful, and as wild 
as a nightmare, to go flying off in this fashion. 
I realised my leap had been altogether too 
violent. I flew clean over Cavor's head and 



ro2 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

beheld a spiky confusion in a gully spreading 
to meet my fall. I gave a yelp of alarm. I 
put out my hands and straightened my legs. 

I hit a huge fungoid bulk that burst all about 
me, scattering a mass of orange spores in every 
direction, and covering me with orange powder. 
I rolled over spluttering, and came to rest con- 
vulsed with breathless laughter. 

I became aware of Cavor's little round face 
peering over a bristling hedge. He shouted 
some faded inquiry. ** Eh ? " I tried to shout, 
but could not do so for want of breath. He 
made his way towards me, coming gingerly 
among the bushes. 

" We've got to be careful," he said. " This 
moon has no discipline. She'll let us smash 
ourselves." 

He helped me to my feet. **You exerted 
yourself too much," he said, dabbing at the 
yellow stuff with his hand to remove it from 
my garments. 

I stood passive and panting, allowing him to 
beat off the jelly from my knees and elbows 
and lecture me upon my misfortunes. "We 
don't quite allow for the gravitation. Our 
muscles are scarcely educated yet. We must 
practise a little, when you have got your 
breath." 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 103 

I pulled two or three little thorns out of my 
hand, and sat for a time on a boulder of rock. 
My muscles were quivering, and I had that 
feeling of personal disillusionment that comes 
at the first fall to the learner of cycling on 
earth. 

It suddenly occurred to Cavor that the cold 
air in the gully, after the brightness of the sun, 
might give me a fever. So we clambered back 
into the sunlight. We found that beyond a 
few abrasions I had received no serious injuries 
from my tumble, and at Cavor's suggestion we 
were presently looking round for some safe 
and easy landing-place for my next leap. We 
chose a rocky slab some ten yards off, sepa- 
rated from us by a little thicket of olive-green 
spikes. 

" Imagine it there ! " said Cavor, who was 
assuming the airs of a trainer, and he pointed 
to a spot about four feet from my toes. This 
leap I managed without difficulty, and I must 
confess I found a certain satisfaction in Cavor's 
falling short by a foot or so and tasting the 
spikes of the scrub. **One has to be careful, 
you see," he said, pulling out his thorns, and 
with that he ceased to be my Mentor, and 
became my fellow learner in the art of lunar 
locomotion. 



I04 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

We chose a still easier jump and did it 
without difficulty, and then leapt back again, 
and to and fro several times, accustoming our 
muscles to the new standard. I could never 
have believed had I not experienced it, how 
rapid that adaptation would be. In a very- 
little time indeed, certainly after fewer than 
thirty leaps, we could judge the effort neces- 
sary for a distance with almost terrestrial 
assurance. 

And all this time the lunar plants were 
growing around us, higher and denser and 
more entangled, every moment thicker and 
taller, spiked plants, green cactus masses, 
fungi, fleshy and lichenous things, strangest 
radiate and sinuous shapes. But we were so 
intent upon our leaping, that for a time we 
gave.no heed to their unfaltering expansion. 

An extraordinary elation had taken pos- 
session of us. Partly, I think, it was our 
sense of release from the confinement of the 
sphere. Mainly, however, the thin sweetness 
of the air, which I am certain contained a 
much larger proportion of oxygen than our 
terrestrial atmosphere. In spite of the strange 
quality of all about us, I felt as adventurous 
and experimental as a cockney would do placed 
for the first time among mountains ; and I do 



PROSPECTING BEGINS 105 

not think it occurred to either of us, face to 
face though we were with the Unknown, to be 
very greatly afraid. 

We were bitten by a spirit of enterprise. 
We selected a lichenous kopje perhaps fifteen 
yards away, and landed neatly on its summit 
one after the other. ** Good ! " we cried to 
each other ; " good ! " and Cavor made three 
steps and went off to a tempting slope of snow 
a good twenty yards and more beyond. I 
stood for a moment struck by the grotesque 
effect of his soaring figure — his dirty cricket 
cap, and spiky hair, his little round body, his 
arms and his knickerbockered legs tucked up 
tightly — against the weird spaciousness of the 
lunar scene. A gust of laughter seized me, 
and then I stepped off to follow. Plump ! I 
dropped beside him. 

We made a few gargantuan strides, leapt 
three or four times more, and sat down at last 
in a lichenous hollow. Our lungs were painful. 
We sat holding our sides and recovering our 
breath, looking appreciation at one another. 
Cavor panted something about ** amazing sen- 
sations." And then came a thought into my 
head. For the moment it did not seem a par- 
ticularly appalling thought, simply a natural 
question arising out of the situation. 



io6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

"By the way," I said, *' where exactly is the 
sphere ? " 

Cavor looked at me. " Eh ? " 

The full meaning of what we were saying 
struck me sharply. 

" Cavor ! " I cried, laying a hand on his arm, 
*' where is the sphere ? " 



X 

LOST MEN IN THE MOON 

His face caught something of my dismay. 
He stood up and stared about him at the 
scrub that fenced us in and rose about us, 
straining upward in a passion of growth. He 
put a dubious hand to his lips. He spoke 
with a sudden lack of assurance. ** I think," 
he said slowly, " we left it . . . somewhere 
. . . about therer 

He pointed a hesitating finger that wavered 
in an arc. 

" Tm not sure." His look of consternation 
deepened. " Anyhow," he said, with his eyes 
on me, " it can't be far." 

We had both stood up. We made unmean- 
ing ejaculations, our eyes sought in the twining, 
thickening jungle round about us. 

All about us on the sunlit slopes frothed and 
swayed the darting shrubs, the swelling cactus, 
the creeping lichens, and wherever the shade 

remained the snowdrifts lingered. North, 

107 



io8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

south, east, and west spread an identical 
monotony of unfamiliar forms. And some- 
where, buried already among this tangled 
confusion, was our sphere, our home, our 
only provision, our only hope of escape from 
this fantastic wilderness of ephemeral growths 
into which we had come. 

** I think, after all," he said, pointing sud- 
denly, " it might be over there." 

** No," I said. *' We have turned in a curve. 
See ! here is the mark of my heels. It's clear 
the thing must be more to the eastward, much 
more. No ! — the sphere must be over there." 

** I think,'' said Cavor, " I kept the sun upon 
my right all the time." 

** Every leap, it seems to me,'' I said, "my 
shadow flew before me." 

We stared into one another's eyes. The 
area of the crater had become enormously vast 
to our imaginations, the growing thickets 
already impenetrably dense. 

** Good heavens ! What fools we have 
been ! " 

" It's evident that we must find it again," 
said Cavor, "and that soon. The sun grows 
stronger. We should be fainting with the 
heat already if it wasn't so dry. And . . • 
I'm hungry." 



LOST MEN IN THE MOON 109 

I stared at him. I had not suspected this 
aspect of the matter before. But it came to 
me at once — a positive craving. '* Yes," I 
said with emphasis. ** I am hungry too." 

He stood up with a look of active resolution. 
** Certainly we must find the sphere." 

As calmly as possible we surveyed the In- 
terminable reefs and thickets that formed the 
floor of the crater, each of us weighing in 
silence the chances of our finding the sphere 
before we were overtaken by heat and hunger. 

** It can't be fifty yards from here," said 
Cavor, with indecisive gestures. *' The only 
thing is to beat round about until we come 
upon it." 

" That is all we can do," I said, without any 
alacrity to begin our hunt. '' I wish this con- 
founded spike bush did not grow so fast ! " 

" That's just it," said Cavor. *' But it was 
lying on a bank of snow." 

I stared about me in the vain hope of recog- 
nising some knoll or shrub that had been near 
the sphere. But everywhere was a confusing 
sameness, everywhere the aspiring bushes, the 
distending fungi, the dwindling snow banks, 
steadily and inevitably changed. The sun 
scorched and stung, the faintness of an un- 
accountable hunger mingled with our infinite 



no THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

perplexity. And even as we stood there, con- 
fused and lost amidst unprecedented things, 
we became aware for the first time of a sound 
upon the moon other than the stir of the grow- 
ing plants, the faint sighing of the wind, or 
those that we ourselves had made. . 

Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . . 

It came from beneath our feet, a sound in 
the earth. We seemed to hear it with our feet 
as much as with our ears. Its dull resonance 
was muffled by distance, thick with the quality 
of intervening substance. No sound that I 
can imagine could have astonished us more, 
or have changed more completely the quality 
of things about us. For this sound, rich, slow, 
and deliberate, seemed to us as though it could 
be nothing but the striking of some gigantic 
buried clock. 

Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . . 

Sound suggestive of still cloisters, of sleep- 
less nights in crowded cities, of vigils and 
the awaited hour, of all that is orderly and 
methodical in life, booming out pregnant and 
mysterious in this fantastic desert ! To the 
eye everything was unchanged : the desolation 
of bushes and cacti waving silently in the wind, 
stretched unbroken to the distant cliffs, the 
still dark sky Was empty overhead, and the hot 



LOST MEN IN THE MOON iii 

sun hung and burned. And through it all, 
a warning, a threat, throbbed this enigma of 
sound. 

Boom . . . Boom . . . Boom . . . 

We questioned one another in faint and 
faded voices, **A clock?" 

** Like a clock ! " 

*' What is it ? " 

" What can it be ? " 

** Count," was Cavor's belated suggestion, 
and at that word the striking ceased. 

The silence, the rhythmic disappointment 
of the silence, came as a fresh shock. For a 
moment one could doubt whether one had ever 
heard a sound. Or whether it might not still 
be going on. Had I indeed heard a sound ? 

I felt the pressure of Cavor's hand upon my 
arm. He spoke in an undertone, as though 
he feared to wake some sleeping thing. *' Let 
us keep together," he whispered, '*and look 
for the sphere. We must get back to the 
sphere. This is beyond our understanding," 

" Which way shall we go ? " 

He hesitated. An intense persuasion of 
presences, of unseen things about us and near 
us, dominated our minds. What could they 
be.-* Where could they be? Was this arid 
desolation, alternately frozen and scorched. 



112 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

only the outer rind and mask of some sub- 
terranean world ? And if so, what sort of 
world ? What sort of inhabitants might it not 
presently disgorge upon us ? 

And then, stabbing the aching stillness as 
vivid and sudden as an unexpected thunder- 
clap, came a clang and rattle as though great 
gates of metal had suddenly been flung apart. 

It arrested our steps. We stood gaping 
helplessly. Then Cavor stole towards me. 

** I do not understand I " he whispered close 
to my face. He waved his hand vaguely sky- 
ward, the vague suggestion of still vaguer 
thoughts. 

" A hiding-place ! If anything came . . ." 

I looked about us. I nodded my head in 
assent to him. 

We started off, moving stealthily with the 
most exaggerated precautions against noise. 
We went towards a thicket of scrub. A 
clangour like hammers flung about a boiler 
hastened our steps. **We must crawl," 
whispered Cavor. 

The lower leaves of the bayonet plants, 
already overshadowed by the newer ones 
above, were beginning to wilt and shrivel so 
that we could thrust our way in among the 
thickening stems without serious injury. A 



LOST MEN IN THE MOON 113 

stab in the face or arm we did not heed. At 
the heart of the thicket I stopped, and stared 
panting into Cavor's face. 

" Subterranean," he whispered. ** Below." 

** They may come out." 

*' We must find the sphere ! " 

"Yes," I said; ** but how?" 

" Crawl till we come to it." 

- But if we don't .^ " 

*' Keep hidden. See what they are like." 

** We will keep together," said I. 

He thought. "Which way shall we go?" 

'* We must take our chance." 

We peered this way and that. Then very 
circumspectly, we began to crawl through the 
lower jungle, making, so far as we could judge, 
a circuit, halting now at every waving fungus, 
at every sound, intent only on the sphere from 
which we had so foolishly emerged. Ever and 
again from out of the earth beneath us came 
concussions, beatings, strange, inexplicable, me- 
chanical sounds ; and once, and then again, 
we thought we heard something, a faint rattle 
and tumult, borne to us through the air. But 
fearful as we were we dared essay no vantage- 
point to survey the crater. For long we saw 
nothing of the beings whose sounds were so 
abundant and insistent. But for the faintness 
of our hunger and the drying of our throats 

H 



114 ^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

that crawling would have had the quality of a 
very vivid dream. It was so absolutely unreal. 
The only element with any touch of reality 
was these sounds. 

Figure it to yourself! About us the dream- 
like jungle, with the silent bayonet leaves 
darting overhead, and the silent, vivid, sun- 
splashed lichens under our hands and knees, 
waving with the vigour of their growth as a 
carpet waves when the wind gets beneath it. 
Ever and again one of the bladder fungi, bulg- 
ing and distending under the sun, loomed upon 
us. Ever and again some novel shape in vivid 
colour obtruded. The very cells that built up 
these plants were as large as my thumb, like 
beads of coloured glass. And all these things 
were saturated in the unmitigated glare of the 
sun, were seen against a sky that was bluish black 
and spangled still, in spite of the sunlight, with 
a few surviving stars. Strange ! the very forms 
and texture of the stones were strange. It was 
all strange, the feeling of one's body was un- 
precedented, every other movement ended in 
a surprise. The breath sucked thin in one's 
throat, the blood flowed through one's ears in a 
throbbing tide — thud, thud, thud, thud. . . . 

And ever and again came gusts of turmoil, 
hammering, the clanging and throb of machinery, 
and presently — the bellowing of great beasts ! 



XI 

THE MOONCALF PASTURES 

So we two poor terrestrial castaways, lost in 
that wild-growing moon jungle, crawled in 
terror before the sounds that had come upon 
us. We crawled, as it seemed, a long time 
before we saw either Selenite or mooncalf, 
though we heard the bellowing and gruntulous 
noises of these latter continually drawing nearer 
to us. We crawled through stony ravines, over 
snow slopes, amidst fungi that ripped like thin 
bladders at our thrust, emitting a watery humour, 
over a perfect pavement of things like puff- 
balls, and beneath interminable thickets of scrub. 
And ever more hopelessly our eyes sought for 
our abandoned sphere. The noise of the moon- 
calves would at times be a vast flat calf-like 
sound, at times it rose to an amazed and 
wrathy bellowing, and again it would become 
a clogged bestial sound, as though these un- 
seen creatures had sought to eat and bellow at 
the same time. 

SIS 



THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Our first view was but an inadequate tran- 
sitory glimpse, yet none the less disturbing 
because it was incomplete. Cavor was crawl- 
ing in front at the time, and he first was aware 
of their proximity. He stopped dead, arresting 
me with a single gesture. 

A crackling and smashing of the scrub ap- 
peared to be advancing directly upon us, and 
then, as we squatted close and endeavoured to 
judge of the nearness and direction of this 
noise, there came a terrific bellow behind us, 
so close and vehement that the tops of the 
bayonet scrub bent before it, and one felt the 
breath of it hot and moist. And, turning 
about, we saw indistinctly through a crowd of 
swaying stems the mooncalfs shining sides, and 
the long line of its back loomed out against 
the sky. 

Of course it is hard for me now to say how 
much I saw at that time, because my impres- 
sions were corrected by subsequent observation. 
First of all impressions was its enormous size ; 
the girth of its body was some fourscore feet, its 
length perhaps two hundred. Its sides rose 
and fell with its laboured breathing. I per- 
ceived that its gigantic, flabby body lay along 
the ground, and that its skin was of a cor- 
rugated white, dappling into blackness along 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 117 

the backbone. But of its feet we saw nothing. 
I think also that we saw then the profile at 
least of the almost brainless head, with its fat- 
encumbered neck, its slobbering omnivorous 
mouth, its little nostrils, and tight shut eyes. 
(For the mooncalf invariably shuts its eyes in 
the presence of the sun.) We had a glimpse 
of a vast red pit as it opened its mouth to bleat 
and bellow again ; we had a breath from the pit, 
and then the monster heeled over like a ship, 
dragged forward along the ground, creasing all 
its leathery skin, rolled again, and so wallowed 
past us, smashing a path amidst the scrub, and 
w^as speedily hidden from our eyes by the dense 
interfacings beyond. Another appeared more 
distantly, and then another, and then, as 
though he was guiding these animated lumps 
of provender to their pasture, a Selenite came 
momentarily into ken. My grip upon Cavor's 
foot became convulsive at the sight of him, and 
we remained motionless and peering long after 
he had passed out of our range. 

By contrast with the mooncalves he seemed 
a trivial being, a mere ant, scarcely five feet 
high. He was wearing garments of some 
leathery substance, so that no portion of his 
actual body appeared, but of this, of course, we 
were entirely ignorant. He presented himself, 



ii8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

therefore, as a compact, bristling creature, hav- 
ing much of the quality of a complicated insect, 
with whip-like tentacles and a clanging arm 
projecting from his shining cylindrical body 
case. The form of his head was hidden by 
his enormous many-spiked helmet — we dis- 
covered afterwards that he used the spikes for 
prodding" refractory mooncalves — and a pair of 
goggles of darkened glass, set very much at 
the side, gave a bird-like quality to the metallic 
apparatus that covered his face. His arms 
did not project beyond his body case, and he 
carried himself upon short legs that, wrapped 
though they were in warm coverings, seemed 
to our terrestrial eyes inordinately flimsy. 
They had very short thighs, very long shanks, 
and little feet. 

In spite of his heavy-looking clothing, he 
was progressing with what would be, from the 
terrestrial point of view, very considerable 
strides, and his clanging arm was busy. The 
quality of his motion during the instant of his 
passing suggested haste and a certain anger, 
and soon after we had lost sight of him we 
heard the bellow of a mooncalf change abruptly 
into a short, sharp squeal, followed by the 
scuffle of its acceleration. And gradually 
that bellowing receded, and then came to 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 119 

an end, as if the pastures sought had been 
attained. 

We listened. For a space the moon world 
was still. But it was some time before we 
resumed our crawling search for the vanished 
sphere. 

When next we saw mooncalves they were 
some little distance away from us in a place of 
tumbled rocks. The less vertical surfaces of 
the rocks were thick with a speckled green 
plant growing in dense mossy clumps, upon 
which these creatures were browsing. We 
stopped at the edge of the reeds amidst which 
we were crawling at the sight of them, peering 
out at them and looking round for a second 
glimpse of a Selenite. They lay against their 
food like stupendous slugs, huge, greasy hulls, 
eating greedily and noisily, with a sort of sob- 
bing avidity. They seemed monsters of mere 
fatness, clumsy and overwhelmed to a degree 
that would make a Smithfield ox seem a 
model of agility. Their busy, writhing, chew- 
ing mouths, and eyes closed, together with the 
appetising sound of their munching, made up 
an effect of animal enjoyment that was sin- 
gularly stimulating to our empty frames. 

** Hogs ! " said Cavor with unusual passion. 
** Disgusting hogs ! " and after one glare of 



I20 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

angry envy crawled off through the bushes 
to our right. I stayed long enough to see 
that the speckled plant was quite hopeless 
for human nourishment, then crawled after 
him, nibbling a quill of it between my teeth. 

Presently we were arrested again by the 
proximity of a Selenite, and this time we were 
able to observe him more exactly. Now we 
could see that the Selenite covering was indeed 
clothing, and not a sort of crustacean integu- 
ment. He was quite similar in his costume to 
the former one we had glimpsed, except that 
ends of something like wadding were protrud- 
ing from his neck, and he stood on a promon- 
tory of rock and moved his head this way and 
that, as though he was surveying the crater. 
We lay quite still, fearing to attract his atten- 
tion if we moved, and after a time he turned 
about and disappeared. 

We came upon another drove of mooncalves 
bellowing up a ravine, and then we passed over 
a place of sounds, sounds of beating machinery, 
as if some huge hall of industry came near the 
surface there. And while these sounds were 
still about us we came to the edge of a great 
open space, perhaps two hundred yards in 
diameter, and perfectly level. Save for a few 
lichens that advanced from its margin this space 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 121 

was bare, and presented a powdery surface 
of a dusty yellow colour. We were afraid to 
strike out across this space, but as it presented 
less obstruction to our crawling than the 
scrub, we went down upon it and began very 
circumspectly to skirt its edge. 

For a little while the noises from below 
ceased, and everything, save for the faint stir 
of the growing vegetation, was very still. 
Then abruptly there began an uproar, louder, 
more vehement, and nearer than any we had 
so far heard. Of a certainty it came from 
below. Instinctively we crouched as flat as 
we could, ready for a prompt plunge into the 
thicket beside us. Each knock and throb 
seemed to vibrate through our bodies. Louder 
grew this throbbing and beating, and that 
irregular vibration increased until the whole 
moon world seemed to be jerking and pulsing. 

" Cover," whispered Cavor, and I turned 
towards the bushes. 

At that instant came a thud like- the thud 
of a gun, and then a thing happened — it still 
haunts me in my dreams. I had turned my 
head to look at Cavor's face, and thrust out 
my hand in front of me as I did so. And my 
hand met nothing ! Plunged suddenly into a 
bottomless hole! 



122 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

My chest hit something hard, and I found 
myself with my chin on the edge of an un- 
fathomable abyss that had suddenly opened 
beneath me, my hand extended stiffly into the 
void. The whole of that flat circular area was 
no more than a gigantic lid, that was now 
sliding sideways from off the pit it had covered 
into a slot prepared for it. 

Had it not been for Cavor I think I should 
have remained rigid, hanging over this margin 
and staring into the enormous gulf below, 
until at last the edges of the slot scraped me 
off and hurled me into its depths. But Cavor 
had not received the shock that had paralysed 
me. He had been a little distance from the 
edge when the lid had first opened, and per- 
ceiving the peril that held me helpless, gripped 
my legs and pulled me backward. I came into 
a sitting position, crawled away from the edge 
for a space on all fours, then staggered up and 
ran after him across the thundering, quivering 
sheet of metal. It seemed to be swinging 
open with a steadily accelerated velocity, and 
the bushes in front of me shifted sideways as 
I ran. 

I was none too soon. Cavor's back vanished 
amidst the bristling thicket, and as I scrambled 
up after him, the monstrous valve came into 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 123 

its position with a clang. For a long time we 
lay panting, not daring to approach the pit. 

But at last very cautiously and bit by bit we 
crept into a position from which we could peer 
down. The bushes about us creaked and 
waved with the force of a breeze that Was 
blowing dov;n the shaft. We could see nothing 
at first except smooth vertical walls descending 
at last into an inpenetrable black. And then 
very gradually we became aware of a number 
of very faint and little lights going to and fro. 

For a time that stupendous gulf of mystery 
held us so that we forgot even our sphere. In 
time, as we grew more accustomed to the dark- 
ness, we could make out very small, dim, 
elusive shapes moving about among those 
needle-point illuminations. We peered amazed 
and incredulous, understanding so little that 
we could find no words to say. We could 
distinguish nothing that would give us a clue 
to the meaning of the faint shapes we saw. 

''What can it be?" I asked; "what can 
it be.?" 

** The engineering ! . . . They must live in 
these caverns during the night, and come out 
during the day." 

'* Cavor ! " I said. ** Can they be — that^Ax. 
was something like — men 1 " 



124 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" T/iaf was not a man." 

** We dare risk nothing ! " 

*' We dare do nothing until we find the 
sphere ! " 

" We can do nothing until we find the 
sphere." 

He assented with a groan and stirred himself 
to move. He stared about him for a space, 
sighed, and indicated a direction. We struck 
out through the jungle. For a time we crawled 
resolutely, then with diminishing vigour. Pre- 
sently among great shapes of flabby purple 
there came a noise of trampling and cries 
about us. We lay close, and for a long time 
the sounds went to and fro and very near. 
But this time we saw nothing. I tried to 
whisper to Cavor that I could hardly go with- 
out food much longer, but my mouth had 
become too dry for whispering. 

** Cavor," I said, " I must have food." 

He turned a face full of dismay towards me. 
*' It's a case for holding out," he said. 

** But I must^' I said, "■ and look at my lips ! " 

*' I've been thirsty some time." 

" If only some of that snow had remained ! " 

** It's clean gone ! We're driving from 
arctic to tropical at the rate of a degree a 
minute ..." 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 125 

I gnawed my hand. 

*' The sphere ! " he said. ** There Is nothing 
for It but the sphere." 

We roused ourselves to another spurt of 
crawHng. My mind ran entirely on edible 
things, on the hissing profundity of summer 
drinks, more particularly I craved for beer. 
I was haunted by the memory of a sixteen 
gallon cask that had swaggered in my Lympne 
cellar. I thought of the adjacent larder, and 
especially of steak and kidney pie — tender 
steak and plenty of kidney, and rich, thick 
gravy between. Ever and again I was seized 
with fits of hungry yawning. We came to 
flat places overgrown with fleshy red things, 
monstrous coralline growths ; as we pushed 
against them they snapped and broke. I 
noted the quality of the broken surfaces. The 
confounded stuff certainly looked of a biteable 
texture. Then it seemed to me that it smelt 
rather well. 

I picked up a fragment and sniffed at It. 

** Cavor," I said In a hoarse undertone. 

He glanced at me with his face screwed up. 
'* Don't," he said. I put down the fragment, 
and we crawled on through this tempting 
fleshiness for a space. 

"Cavor," I asked, "why nof T' 



126 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** Poison," I heard him say, but he did not 
look round. 

We crawled some way before I decided. 

'^ I'll chance it," said I. 

He made a belated gesture to prevent me. 
I stuffed my mouth full. He crouched watching 
my face, his own twisted into the oddest ex- 
pression. "It's good," I said. 

" O Lord ! " he cried. 

He watched me munch, his face wrinkled 
between desire and disapproval, then suddenly 
succumbed to appetite, and began to tear off 
huge mouthfuls. For a time we did nothing 
but eat. 

The stuff was not unlike a terrestrial mush- 
room, only it was much laxer in texture, and, as 
one swallowed it, it warmed the throat. At first 
we experienced a mere mechanical satisfaction 
in eating ; then our blood began to run warmer, 
and we tingled at the lips and fingers, and then 
new and slightly irrelevant ideas came bubbling 
up in our minds. 

*' It's good," said I. ** Infernally good ! 
What a home for our surplus population ! Our 
poor surplus population," and I broke off an- 
other large portion. 

It filled me with a curiously benevolent satis- 
faction that there was such good food in the 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 127 

moon. The depression of my hunger gave 
way to an irrational exhilaration. The dread 
and discomfort in which I had been living 
vanished entirely. I perceived the moon no 
longer as a planet from which I most earnestly 
desired the means of escape, but as a possible 
refuge for human destitution. I think I forgot 
the Selenites, the mooncalves, the lid, and the 
noises completely so soon as I had eaten that 
fungus. 

Cavor replied to my third repetition of my 
** surplus population " remark with similar words 
of approval. I felt that my head swam, but I put 
this down to the stimulating effect of food after 
a long fast. *' Ess'Ient disco v'ry yours, Cavor," 
said I. ** Se'nd on'y to the 'tato." 

'* Whajer mean ? " asked Cavor. " 'Scovery 
of the moon — se'nd on'y to the 'tato ? " 

I looked at him, shocked at his suddenly 
hoarse voice, and by the badness of his articu- 
lation. It occurred to me in a flash that he 
was intoxicated, possibly by the fungus. It 
also occurred to me that he erred in imagining 
that he had discovered the moon ; he had not 
discovered it, he had only reached it. I tried 
to lay my hand on his arm and explain this 
to him, but the issue was too subtle for his 
brain. It was also unexpectedly difficult to 



128 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

express. After a momentary attempt to un- 
derstand me — I remember wondering if the 
fungus had made my eyes as fishy as his — he 
set off upon some observations on his own 
account. 

**We are," he announced with a solemn 
hiccup, **the creashurs o' what we eat and 
drink." 

He repeated this, and as I was now in one 
of my subtle moods, I determined to dispute it. 
Possibly I wandered a little from the point. 
But Cavor certainly did not attend at all pro- 
perly. He stood up as well as he could, putting 
a hand on my head to steady himself, which was 
disrespectful, and stood staring about him, quite 
devoid now of any fear of the moon beings. 

I tried to point out that this was dangerous 
for some reason that was not perfectly clear to 
me, but the word ** dangerous" had somehow 
got mixed with ** indiscreet," and came out 
rather more like ''injurious" than either; and 
after an attempt to disentangle them, I resumed 
my argument, addressing myself principally to 
the unfamiliar but attentive coralline growths 
on either side. I felt that it was necessary to 
clear up this confusion between the moon and 
a potato at once — I wandered into a long paren- 
thesis on the importance of precision of de- 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 129 

finition in argument. I did my best to ignore 
the fact that my bodily sensations were no 
longer agreeable. 

In some way that I have now forgotten, my 
mind was led back to projects of colonisation. 
*' We must annex this moon," I said. ** There 
must be no shilly-shally. This is part of the 
White Man's Burthen. Cavor — we are — Mc 
— Satap — mean Satraps! N empire Caesar 
never dreamt. B'in all the newspapers. Ca- 
vorecia. Bedfordecia. Bedfordecia — hie — 
Limited. Mean — unlimited ! Practically." 

Certainly I was intoxicated. 

I embarked upon an argument to show the 
infinite benefits our arrival would confer on the 
moon. I involved myself in a rather difficult 
proof that the arrival of Columbus was, on the 
whole, beneficial to America. I found I had 
forgotten the line of argument I had intended 
to pursue, and continued to repeat ** Simlar to 
C'lumbus," to fill up time. 

From that point my memory of the action of 
that abominable fungus becomes confused. I 
remember vaguely that we declared our inten- 
tion of standing no nonsense from any con- 
founded insects, that we decided it ill became 
men to hide shamefully upon a mere satellite, 

that we equipped ourselves with huge armfuls 

I 



I30 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

of the fungus — whether for missile purposes or 
not I do not know — and, heedless of the stabs 
of the bayonet scrub, we started forth into the 
sunshine. 

Almost immediately we must have come upon 
the Selenites. There were six of them, and 
they were marching in single file over a rocky 
place, making the most remarkable piping and 
whining sounds. They all seemed to become 
aware of us at once, all instantly became silent 
and motionless, like animals, with their faces 
turned towards us. 

For a moment I was sobered. 

*' Insects," murmured Cavor, '' insects ! And 
they think I'm going to crawl about on my 
stomach — on my vertebrated stomach I 

** Stomach," he repeated slowly, as though 
he chewed the indignity. 

Then suddenly, with a shout of fury, he made 
three vast strides and leapt towards them. He 
leapt badly ; he made a series of somersaults in 
the air, whirled right over them, and vanished 
with an enormous splash amidst the cactus 
bladders. What the Selenites made of this 
amazing, and to my mind undignified irruption 
from another planet, I have no means of guess- 
ing. I seem to remember the sight of their 
backs as they ran in all directions, but I am 




"Insects," murmured Cavor, "insects" 



THE MOONCALF PASTURES 131 

not sure. All these last incidents before obli- 
vion came are vague and faint in my mind. I 
know I made a step to follow Cavor, and tripped 
and fell headlong among the rocks. I was, I 
am certain, suddenly and vehemently ill. I 
seem to remember a violent struggle, and being 
gripped by metallic clasps. . . . 

My next clear recollection is that we were 
prisoners at we knew not what depth beneath 
the moon's surface ; we were in darkness amidst 
strange distracting noises ; our bodies were 
covered with scratches and bruises, and our 
heads racked with pain. 



XII 

THE SELENITE's FACE 

I FOUND myself sitting crouched together In a 
tumultuous darkness. For a long time I could 
not understand where I was, nor how I had come 
to this perplexity. I thought of the cupboard 
into which I had been thrust at times when I 
was a child, and then of a very dark and noisy 
bedroom In which I had slept during an Illness. 
But these sounds about me were not the noises 
I had known, and there was a thin flavour In 
the air like the wind of a stable. Then I sup- 
posed we must still be at work upon the sphere, 
and that somehow I had got Into the cellar of 
Cavor's house. I remembered we had finished 
the sphere, and fancied I must still be in it 
and travelling through space. 

'* Cavor," I said, ** cannot we have some 
light ? " 

There came no answer. 

" Cavor ! " I Insisted. 

I was answered by a groan. " My head ! " 

I heard him say; **my head!'* 

132 



THE SELENITE'S FACE 133 

I attempted to press my hands to my brow, 
which ached, and discovered they were tied 
together. This startled me very much. 1 
brought them up to my mouth and felt the 
cold smoothness of metal. They were chained 
together. I tried to separate my legs, and 
made out they were similarly fastened, and 
also that I was fastened to the ground by a 
much thicker chain about the middle of my 
body. 

I was more frightened than I had yet been 
by anything in all our strange experiences. 
For a time I tugged silently at my bonds. 
"Cavor!" I cried out sharply. ** Why am I 
tied ? Why have you tied me hand and foot ? " 

** I haven't tied you," he answered. ** It's 
the Selenites." 

The Selenites ! My mind hung on that for 
a space. Then my memories came back to 
me : the snowy desolation, the thawing of the 
air, the growth of the plants, our strange 
hopping and crawling among the rocks and 
vegetation of the crater. All the distress of 
our frantic search for the sphere returned to 
me. . . . Finally the opening of the great lid 
that covered the pit ! 

Then as I strained to trace our later move- 
ments down to our present plight, the pain in 



134 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

my head became intolerable. I came to an 
insurmountable barrier, an obstinate blank. 

*'Cavor!" 

"Yes?" 

** Where are we ? " 

" How should I know ? " 

"Are we dead?" 

" What nonsense ! " 

" They've got us, then ! " 

He made no answer but a grunt. The 
lingering traces of the poison seemed to make 
him oddly irritable. 

" What do you mean to do ? " 

** How should I know what to do ? " 

" Oh, very well ! " said I, and became 
silent. Presently I was roused from a stupor. 
*' O Lord! " I cried ; " I wish you'd stop 
that buzzing ! " 

We lapsed into silence again, listening to 
the dull confusion of noises like the muffled 
sounds of a street or factory that filled our ears. 
I could make nothing of it, my mind pur- 
sued first one rhythm and then another, and 
questioned it in vain. But after a long time 
I became aware of a new and sharper element, 
not mingling with the rest but standing out, as 
it were, against that cloudy background of 
sound. It was a series of relatively very little 



THE SELENITE'S FACE 135 

definite sounds, tappings and rubbings, like 
a loose spray of ivy against a window or a 
bird moving about upon a box. We listened 
and peered about us, but the darkness was a 
velvet pall. There followed a noise like the 
subtle movement of the wards of a well-oiled 
lock. And then there appeared before me, 
hanging as it seemed in an immensity of black, 
a thin bright line. 

" Look ! " whispered Cavor very softly. 

*• What is it ? " 

" I don't know." 

We stared. 

The thin bright line became a band, and 
broader and paler. It took upon itself the 
quality of a bluish light falling upon a white- 
washed wall. It ceased to be parallel-sided ; 
it developed a deep indentation on one side. 
I turned to remark this to Cavor, and was 
amazed to see his ear in a brilliant illumination 
— all the rest of him in shadow. I twisted 
my head round as well as my bonds would 
permit. " Cavor," I said, '' it's behind ! " 

His ear vanished — gave place to an eye I 

Suddenly the crack that had been admitting 
the light broadened out, and revealed itself as 
the space of an opening door. Beyond was 
a sapphire vista, and in the doorway stood 



136 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

a grotesque outline silhouetted against the 
glare. 

We both made convulsive efforts to turn, 
and failing, sat staring over our shoulders at 
this. My first impression was of some clumsy 
quadruped with lowered head. Then I per- 
ceived it was the slender pinched body and 
short and extremely attenuated bandy legs of 
a Selenite, with his head depressed between his 
shoulders. He was without the helmet and 
body covering they wear upon the exterior. 

He was a blank, black figure to us, but in- 
stinctively our imaginations supplied features 
to his very human outline. I, at least, took it 
instantly that he was somewhat hunchbacked, 
with a high forehead and long features. 

He came forward three steps and paused for 
a time. His movements seemed absolutely 
noiseless. Then he came forward again. He 
walked like a bird, his feet fell one in front of 
the other. He stepped out of the ray of light 
that came through the doorway, and it seemed 
as though he vanished altogether in the shadow. 

For a moment my eyes sought him in the 
wrong place, and then I perceived him standing 
facing us both in the full light. Only the 
human features I had attributed to him were 
not there at all ! 




" There the thing was, looking at us 



THE SELENITE'S FACE 137 

Of course I ought to have expected that, 
only I didn't. It came to me as an absolute, 
for a moment an overwhelming, shock. It 
seemed as though it wasn't a face, as though 
it must needs be a mask, a horror, a deformity, 
that would presently be disavowed or explained. 
There was no nose, and the thing had dull 
bulging eyes at the side — in the silhouette I 
had supposed they were ears. There were no 
ears. ... I have tried to draw one of these 
heads, but I cannot. There was a mouth, 
downwardly curved, like a human mouth in a 
face that stares ferociously. . . . 

The neck on which the head was poised was 
jointed in three places, almost like the short 
joints in the leg of a crab. The joints of the 
limbs I could not see, because of the puttee- 
like straps in which they were swathed, and 
which formed the only clothing the being wore. 

There the thing was, looking at us ! 

At the time my mind was taken up by the 
mad impossibility of the creature. I suppose 
he also was amazed, and with more reason, 
perhaps, for amazement than we. Only, con- 
found him ! he did not show it. We did at 
least knov; what had brought about this meet- 
ing of incompatible creatures. But conceive 
how it would seem to decent Londoners, for 



138 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

example, to come upon a couple of living 
things, as big as men and absolutely unlike 
any other earthly animals, careering about 
among the sheep in Hyde Park! It must 
have taken him like that. 

Figure us ! We were bound hand and foot, 
fagged and filthy ; our beards two inches long, 
our faces scratched and bloody. Cavor you 
must imagine in his knickerbockers (torn in 
several places by the bayonet scrub), his Jaeger 
shirt and old cricket cap, his wiry hair wildly 
disordered, a tail to every quarter of the 
heavens. In that blue light his face did not 
look red but very dark, his lips and the drying 
blood upon my hands seemed black. If pos- 
sible I was in a worse plight than he, on 
account of the yellow fungus into which I had 
jumped. Our jackets were unbuttoned, and 
our shoes had been taken off and lay at our 
feet. And we were sitting with our backs to 
this queer bluish light, peering at such a 
monster as Durer might have invented. 

Cavor broke the silence ; started to speak, 
went hoarse, and cleared his throat. Outside 
began a terrific bellowing, as if a mooncalf 
were in trouble. It ended in a shriek, and 
everything was still again. 

Presently the Selenite turned about, flickered 



THE SELENITE'S FACE 139 

into the shadow, stood for a moment retro- 
spective at the door, and then closed it 
on us ; and once more we were in that mur- 
murous mystery of darkness into which we 
had awakened. 



XIII 

MR. CAVOR MAKES SOME SUGGESTIONS 

For a time neither of us spoke. To focus 
together all the things we had brought upon 
ourselves, seemed beyond my mental powers. 

" They've got us," I said at last. 

"It was that fungus." 

" Well — if I hadn't taken it we should have 
fainted and starved." 

" We might have found the sphere." 

I lost my temper at his persistence, and 
swore to myself. For a time we hated one 
another in silence. I drummed with my 
fingers on the floor between my knees, and 
gritted the links of my fetters together. Pre- 
sently I was forced to talk again. 

" What do you make of it, anyhow ? " I asked 
humbly. 

" They are reasonable creatures — they can 
make things and do things — Those lights 
we saw . . ." 

He stopped. It was clear he could make 

nothing of it. 

140 



MR. CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 141 

When he spoke again it was to confess, 
" After all, they are more human than v^^e had 
a right to expect. I suppose " 

He stopped irritatingly. 

*'Yes?" 

" I suppose, anyhow — on any planet where 
there is an intelligent animal — it will carry its 
brain case upward, and have hands, and walk 
erect ..." 

Presently he broke away in another direction. 

"We are some way in," he said. ** I mean 
— perhaps a couple of thousand feet or more." 

*' Why ? " 

** It's cooler. And our voices are so much 
louder. That faded quality — it has altogether 
gone. And the feeling in one's ears and 
throat." 

I had not noted that, but I did now. 

**The air is denser. We must be some 
depth — a mile even, we may be — inside the 
moon." 

**We never thought of a world inside the 
moon." 

*' No." 

"How could we?" 

" We might have done. Only — One gets 
into habits of mind." 

He thought for a time. 



142 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

'' JVow" he said, **it seems such an obvious 
thing. 

" Of course ! The moon must be enormously 
cavernous, with an atmosphere within, and at 
the centre of its caverns a sea. 

'* One knew that the moon had a lower specific 
gravity than the earth, one knew that it had little 
air or water outside, one knew, too, that it was 
sister planet to the earth, and that it was un- 
accountable that it should be different In com- 
position. The inference that it was hollowed 
out was as clear as day. And yet one never 
saw it as a fact. Kepler, of course " 

His voice had the interest now of a man who 
has discovered a pretty sequence of reasoning. 

" Yes," he said, '* Kepler with his sub-volvani 
was right after all." 

*' I wish you had taken the trouble to find 
that out before we came," I said. 

He answered nothing, buzzing to himself 
softly as he pursued his thoughts. My temper 
was going. '* What do you think has become 
of the sphere, anyhow 1 " I asked. 

'* Lost," he said, like a man who ansv/ers an 
uninteresting question. 

" Among those plants ? " 

" Unless they find it." 

''And then?" 



MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 143 

" How can I tell ? " 

** Cavor," I said, with a sort of hysterical 
bitterness, "things look bright for my Com- 
pany. . . ." 

He made no answer. 

**Good Lord!" I exclaimed. ** Just think of 
all the trouble we took to get into this pickle ! 
What did we come for ? What are we after ? 
What was the moon to us or we to the moon ? 
We wanted too much, we tried too much. We 
ought to have started the little things first. It 
was you proposed the moon ! Those Cavorite 
spring blinds ! I am certain we could have 
worked them for terrestrial purposes. Certain ! 
Did you really understand what I proposed ? 
A steel cylinder — - — " 

** Rubbish ! " said Cavor. 

We ceased to converse. 

For a time Cavor kept up a broken mono- 
logue without much help from me. 

** If they find it," he began, **if they find it 
. . . what will they do with it ? Well, that's a 
question. It may be that's ^/le question. They 
won't understand it, anyhow. If they under- 
stood that sort of thing they would have come 
long since to the earth. Would they ? Why 
shouldn't they? But they would have sent 
something — They couldn't keep their hands 



144 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

off such a possibility. No ! But they will 
examine it. Clearly they are intelligent and 
inquisitive. They will examine it — get inside 
It — trifle with the studs. Off! . . . That 
would mean the moon for us for all the rest 
of our lives. Strange creatures, strange know- 
ledge ..." 

*' As for strange knowledge — " said I, and 
language failed me. 

''Look here, Bedford," said Cavor, "you 
came on this expedition of your own free will." 

*' You said to me, * Call it prospecting.' " 

** There's always risks in prospecting." 

" Especially when you do it unarmed and 
without thinking out every possibility." 

*' I was so taken up with the sphere. The 
thing rushed on us, and carried us away." 

** Rushed on me, you mean." 

" Rushed on me just as much. How was / 
to know when I set to work on molecular 
physics that the business would bring me here 
— of all places ? " 

" It's this accursed science," I cried. ''It's the 
very Devil. The mediaeval priests and perse- 
cutors were right and the Moderns are all wrong. 
You tamper with it — and it offers you gifts. 
And directly you take them it knocks you to 
pieces in some unexpected way. Old passions 



MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 145 

and new weapons — now it upsets your religion, 
now it upsets your social ideas, now it whirls 
you off to desolation and misery ! " 

'* Anyhow, it's no use your quarrelling with 
me now. These creatures — these Selenites, or 
whatever we choose to call them — have got us 
tied hand and foot. Whatever temper you 
choose to go through with it in, you will 
have to go through with it. . . . We have 
experiences before us that will need all our 
coolness." 

He paused as if he required my assent. But 
I sat sulking. ** Confound your science ! " I 
said. 

** The problem is communication. Gestures, 
I fear, will be different. Pointing, for example. 
No creatures but men and monkeys point." 

That was too obviously wrong for me. 
"Pretty nearly every animal," J cried, "points 
with its eyes or nose." 

Cavor meditated over that. "Yes," he said 
at last, " and we don't. There's such differ- 
ences — such differences ! 

" One might ... But how can I tell ? 
There is speech. The sounds they make, a 
sort of fluting and piping. I don't see how we 
are to imitate that. Is it their speech, that 
sort of thing ? They may have different senses, 

K 



146 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

different means of communication. Of course 
they are minds and we are minds ; there must 
be something in common. Who knows how far 
we may not get to an understanding ? " 

** The things are outside us," I said. 
** They're more different from us than the 
strangest animals on earth. They are a dif- 
ferent clay. What is the good of talking like 
this.?" 

Cavor thought. " I don't see that. Where 
there are minds they will have something 
similar — even though they have been evolved 
on different planets. Of course if it was a 
question of instincts, if we or they are no more 
than animals " 

" Well, are they ? They're much more like 
ants on their hind legs than human beings, and 
who ever got to any sort of understanding with 
ants .? " 

"But these machines and clothing ! No, I 
don't hold with you, Bedford. The difference 
is wide " 

** It's insurmountable." 

*' The resemblance must bridge it. I re- 
member reading once a paper by the late 
Professor Galton on the possibility of commu- 
nication between the planets. Unhappily, at 
that time it did not seem probable that that 



MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 147 

would be of any material benefit to me, and I 
fear I did not give it the attention I should 
have done — in view of this state of affairs. 
Yet . . . Now, let me see ! 

** His idea was to begin with those broad 
truths that must underlie all conceivable mental 
existences and establish a basis on those. The 
great principles of geometry, to begin with. 
He proposed to take some leading proposition 
of Euclid's, and show by construction that its 
truth was known to us, to demonstrate, for 
example, that the angles at the base of an 
isosceles triangle are equal, and that if the 
equal sides be produced the angles on the 
other side of the base are equal also, or that 
the square on the hypotenuse of a right-angled 
triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on 
the two other sides. By demonstrating our 
knowledge of these things we should demon- 
strate our possession of a reasonable intelli- 
gence. . . . Now, suppose I ... I might draw 
the geometrical figure with a wet finger, or 
even trace it in the air . . ." 

He fell silent. I sat meditating his words. 
For a time his wild hope of communication, of 
interpretation, with these weird beings held me. 
Then that angry despair that was a part of my 
exhaustion and physical misery resumed its 



148 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

sway. I perceived with a sudden novel vivid- 
ness the extraordinary folly of everything I had 
ever done. " Ass ! " I said ; '' oh, ass, unutter- 
able ass ... I seem to exist only to go about 
doing preposterous things. . . . Why did we 
ever leave the thing? . . . Hopping about 
looking for patents and concessions in the 
craters of the moon ! ... If only we had had 
the sense to fasten a handkerchief to a stick 
to show where we had left the sphere ! " 

I subsided, fuming. 

"It is clear," meditated Cavor, "they are 
intelligent. One can hypotheticate certain 
things. As they have not killed us at once, 
they must have ideas of mercy. Mercy! at 
any rate of restraint. Possibly of intercourse. 
They may meet us. And this apartment and 
the glimpses we had of its guardian. These 
fetters ! A high degree of intelligence ..." 

" I wish to heaven," cried I, " I'd thought 
even twice ! Plunge after plunge. First one 
fluky start and then another. It was my con- 
fidence in you ! JVky didn't I stick to my 
play? That was what I was equal to. That 
was my world and the life I was made for. I 
could have finished that play. I'm certain . . . 
it was a good play. I had the scenario as good 
as done. Then . . . Conceive it ! leaping to 



MR. CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 149 

the moon ! Practically — I've thrown my life 
away ! That old woman in the inn near Can- 
terbury had better sense." 

I looked up, and stopped in mid-sentence. 
The darkness had given place to that bluish 
light again. The door was opening, and seve- 
ral noiseless Selenites were coming into the 
chamber. I became quite still, staring at their 
grotesque faces. 

Then suddenly my sense of disagreeable 
strangeness changed to interest. I perceived 
that the foremost and second carried bowls. 
One elemental need at least our minds could 
understand in common. They were bowls of 
some metal that, like our fetters, looked dark 
in that bluish light ; and each contained a 
number of whitish fragments. All the cloudy 
pain and misery that oppressed me rushed 
together and took the shape of hunger. I eyed 
these bowls wolfishly, and, though it returned 
to me in dreams, at that time it seemed a small 
matter that at the end of the arms that lowered 
one towards me were not hands, but a sort of 
flap and thumb, like the end of an elephant's 
trunk. 

The stuff in the bowl was loose in texture, 
and whitish brown in colour — rather like lumps 
of some cold souffle, and it smelt faintly like 



150 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

mushrooms. From a partially divided carcass 
of a mooncalf that we presently saw, I am in- 
clined to believe it must have been mooncalf 
flesh. 

My hands were so tightly chained that I 
could barely contrive to reach the bowl ; but 
when they saw the effort I made, two of them 
dexterously released one of the turns about 
my wrist. Their tentacle hands were soft and 
cold to my skin. I immediately seized a 
mouthful of the food. It had the same laxness 
in texture that all organic structures seem to 
have upon the moon ; it tasted rather like a 
gauffre or a damp meringue, but in no way 
was it disagreeable. I took two other mouth- 
fuls. ** I wanted — foo' ! " said I, tearing off a 
still larger piece. . * . 

For a time we ate with an utter absence of 
self-consciousness. We ate and presently drank 
like tramps in a soup kitchen. Never before 
nor since have I been hungry to the ravenous 
pitch, and save that I have had this very ex- 
perience I could never have believed that, a 
quarter of a million of miles out of our proper 
world, in utter perplexity of soul, surrounded, 
watched, touched by beings more grotesque 
and inhuman than the worst creations of a 
nightmare, it would be possible for me to eat 



MR, CAVOR MAKES SUGGESTIONS 151 

in utter forgetfulness of all these things. They 
stood about us watching us, and ever and again 
making a slight elusive twittering that stood 
them, I suppose, in the stead of speech^ I did 
not even shiver at their touch. And when the 
first zeal of my feeding was over, I could note 
that Cavor, too, had been eating with the same 
shameless abandon. 



XIV 

EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 

When at last we had made an end of eating, 
the Selenites Hnked our hands closely together 
again, and then untwisted the chains about our 
feet and rebound them, so as to give us a 
limited freedom of movement. Then they 
unfastened the chains about our waists. To 
do all this they had to handle us freely, and 
ever and again one of their queer heads came 
down close to my face, or a soft tentacle- 
hand touched my head or neck. I don't re- 
member that I was afraid then or repelled by 
their proximity. I think that our incurable 
anthropomorphism made us imagine there were 
human heads inside their masks. The skin, 
like everything else, looked bluish, but that 
was on account of the light ; and it was hard 
and shiny, quite in the beetle-wing fashion, 
not soft, or moist, or hairy, as a vertebrated 
animal's would be. Along the crest of the 

head was a low ridge of whitish spines run- 

152 



EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 153 

ning from back to front, and a much larger 
ridge curved on either side over the eyes. 
The Selenite who untied me used his mouth 
to help his hands. 

'' They seem to be releasing us," said Cavor. 
** Remember we are on the moon ! Make no 
sudden m^ovements ! " 

*' Are you going to try that geometry ? " 

** If I get a chance. But, of course, they 
may make an advance first." 

We remained passive, and the Selenites, 
having finished their arrangements, stood back 
from us, and seemed to be looking at us. I 
say seemed to be, because as their eyes were 
at the side and not in front, one had the same 
difficulty in determining the direction in which 
they were looking as one has in the case of a 
hen or a fish. They conversed with one an- 
other in their reedy tones, that seemed to me 
impossible to imitate or define. The door 
behind us opened wider, and, glancing over 
my shoulder, I saw a vague large space be- 
yond, in which quite a little crowd of Selen- 
ites were standing. They seemed a curiously 
miscellaneous rabble. 

*' Do they want us to imitate those sounds ?" 
I asked Cavor. 

" I don't think so," he said. 



154 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** It seems to me that they are trying to 
make us understand something." 

*' I can't make anything of their gestures. 
Do you notice this one, who is worrying with 
his head hke a man with an uncomfortable 
collar ? " 

** Let us shake our heads at him." 

We did that, and finding it ineffectual, at- 
tempted an imitation of the Selenites' move- 
ments. That seemed to interest them. At 
any rate they all set up the same movement. 
But as that seemed to lead to nothing, we 
desisted at last and so did they, and fell into a 
piping argument among themselves. Then one 
of them, shorter and very much thicker than 
the others, and with a particularly wide mouth, 
squatted down suddenly beside Cavor, and put 
his hands and feet in the same posture as 
Cavor's were bound, and then by a dexterous 
movement stood up. 

"Cavor," I shouted, "they want us to 
get up ! " 

He stared open .- mouthed. "That's it!" 
he said. 

And with much heaving and grunting, be- 
cause our hands were tied together, we contrived 
to struggle to our feet. The Selenites made 
way for our elephantine heavings, and seemed 



EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 155 

to twitter more volubly. As soon as we were 
on our feet the thick-set Selenite came and 
patted each of our faces with his tentacles, 
and walked towards the open doorway. That 
also was plain enough, and we followed him. 
We saw that four of the Selenites standing in 
the doorway were much taller than the others, 
and clothed in the same manner as those we 
had seen in the crater, namely, with spiked 
round helmets and cylindrical body-cases, and 
that each of the four carried a goad with spike 
and guard made of that same dull - looking 
metal as the bowls. These four closed about 
us, one on either side of each of us, as we 
emerged from our chamber into the cavern 
from which the light had come. 

We did not get our impression of that cavern 
all at once. Our attention was taken up by 
the movements and attitudes of the Selenites 
immediately about us, and by the necessity of 
controlling our motion, lest we should startle 
and alarm them and ourselves by some ex- 
cessive stride. In front of us was the short, 
thick-set being who had solved the problem 
of asking us to get up, moving with gestures 
that seemed, almost all of them, intelligible 
to us, inviting us to follow him. His spout- 
like face turned from one of us to the other 



iS6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

with a quickness that was clearly interrogative. 
For a time, I say, we were taken up with these 
things. 

But at last the great place that formed a 
background to our movements asserted itself. 
It became apparent that the source of much, 
at least, of the tumult of sounds which had 
filled our ears ever since we had recovered 
from the stupefaction of the fungus was a vast 
mass of machinery in active movement, whose 
flying and whirling parts were visible indis- 
tinctly over the heads and between the bodies 
of the Selenites who walked about us. And 
not only did the web of sounds that filled the 
air proceed from this mechanism, but also 
the peculiar blue light that irradiated the whole 
place. We had taken it as a natural thing that 
a subterranean cavern should be artificially lit, 
and even now, though the fact was patent to 
my eyes, I did not really grasp its import until 
presently the darkness came. The meaning 
and structure of this huge apparatus we saw 
I cannot explain, because we neither of us 
learnt what it was for or how it worked. One 
after another, big shafts of metal flung out 
and up from its centre, their heads travelling 
in what seemed to me to be a parabolic path ; 
each dropped a sort of dangling arm as it rose 



EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 157 

towards the apex of its flight and plunged 
down into a vertical cylinder, forcing this down 
before it. About it moved the shapes of 
tenders, little figures that seemed vaguely- 
different from the beings about us. As each 
of the three dangling arms of the machine 
plunged down, there was a clank and then 
a roaring, and out of the top of the vertical 
cylinder came pouring this incandescent sub- 
stance that lit the place, and ran over as milk 
runs over a boiling pot, and dripped luminously 
into a tank of light below. It was a cold blue 
light, a sort of phosphorescent glow but in- 
finitely brighter, and from the tanks into which 
it fell it ran in conduits athwart the cavern. 

Thud, thud, thud, thud, came the sweeping 
arms of this unintelligible apparatus, and the 
light substance hissed and poured. At first 
the thing seemed only reasonably large and 
near to us, and then I saw how exceedingly 
little the Selenites upon it seemed, and I 
realised the full immensity of cavern and 
machine. I looked from this tremendous 
affair to the faces of the Selenites with a new 
respect. I stopped, and Cavor stopped, and 
stared at this thunderous engine. 

" But this is stupendous ! " I said. '' What 
can it be for ? " 



iS8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Cavor s blue-lit face was full of an intelli- 
gent respect. ** I can't dream ! Surely these 
beings — Men could not make a thing like 
that ! Look at those arms, are they on 
connecting rods ? " 

The thick-set Selenite had gone some paces 
unheeded. He came back and stood between 
us and the great machine. I avoided seeing 
him, because I guessed somehow that his idea 
was to beckon us onward. He walked away 
in the direction he wished us to go, and turned 
and came back, and flicked our faces to attract 
our attention. 

Cavor and I looked at one another. 

*' Cannot we show him we are interested in 
the machine.'*" I said. 

**Yes," said Cavor. "We'll try that." He 
turned to our guide and smiled, and pointed to 
the machine, and pointed again, and then to 
his head, and then to the machine. By some 
defect of reasoning he seemed to imagine that 
broken English might help these gestures. 
"Me look 'im," he said, "me think 'im very 
much. Yes." 

His behaviour seemed to check the Selenites 
in their desire for our progress for a moment. 
They faced one another, their queer heads 
moved, the twittering voices came quick and 



EXPERIMENTS IN INTERCOURSE 159 

liquid. Then one of them, a lean, tall creature, 
with a sort of mantle added to the puttee in 
which the others were dressed, twisted his 
elephant trunk of a hand about Cavor's waist, 
and pulled him gently to follow our guide, who 
again went on ahead. 

Cavor resisted. ** We may just as well begin 
explaining ourselves now. They may think we 
are new animals, a new sort of mooncalf per- 
haps ! It is most important that we should 
show an intelligent interest from the outset." 

He began to shake his head violently. ** No, 
no," he said, " me not come on one minute. 
Me look at 'im." 

** Isn't there some geometrical point you 
might bring in apropos of that affair ? " I sug- 
gested, as the Selenites conferred again. 

** Possibly a parabolic — " he began. 

He yelled loudly, and leaped six feet or 
more ! 

One of the four armed moon-men had pricked 
him with a goad ! 

I turned on the goad-bearer behind me with a 
swift threatening gesture, and he started back. 
This and Cavor's sudden shout and leap clearly 
astonished all the Selenites. They receded 
hastily, facing us. For one of those moments 
that seem to last for ever, we stood in angry 



i6o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

protest, with a scattered semicircle of these in- 
human beings about us. 

"He pricked me ! " said Cavor, with a catch- 
ing of the voice. 

** I saw him," I answered. 

" Confound it ! " I said to the Selenites ; 
** we're not going to stand that! What on 
earth do you take us for ? " 

I glanced quickly right and left. Far away 
across the blue wilderness of cavern I saw a 
number of other Selenites running towards us ; 
broad and slender they were, and one with a 
larger head than the others. The cavern spread 
wide and low, and receded in every direction 
into darkness. Its roof, I remember, seemed 
to bulge down as if with the weight of the vast 
thickness of rocks that prisoned us. There was 
no way out of it — no way out of it. Above, 
below, in every direction, was the unknown, 
and these inhuman creatures, with goads and 
gestures, confronting us, and we two unsup- 
ported men! 



XV 

THE GIDDY BRIDGE 

Just for a moment that hostile pause endured. 
I suppose that both we and the Selenites did 
some very rapid thinking. My clearest im- 
pression was that there was nothing to put my 
back against, and that we were bound to be 
surrounded and killed. The overwhelming 
folly of our presence there loomed over me 
in black, enormous reproach. Why had I 
ever launched myself on this mad, inhuman 
expedition ? 

Cavor came to my side and laid his hand 
on my arm. His pale and terrified face was 
ghastly in the blue light. 

'* We can't do anything," he said. ** It's a 
mistake. They don't understand. We must 
go. As they want us to go." 

I looked down at him, and then at the fresh 
Selenites who were coming to help their fel- 
lows. ** If I had my hands free — — " 

"It's no use," he panted. 

i6i r 



1 62 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

''No." 

"We'll go." 

And he turned about and led the way in the 
direction that had been indicated for us. 

I followed, trying to look as subdued as pos- 
sible, and feeling at the chains about my wrists. 
My blood was boiling. I noted nothing more 
of that cavern, though it seemed to take a long 
time before we had marched across it, or if I 
noted anything I forgot it as I saw it. My 
thoughts were concentrated, I think, upon my 
chains and the Selenites, and particularly upon 
the helmeted ones with the goads. At first 
they marched parallel with us, and at a respect- 
ful distance, but presently they were overtaken 
by three others, and then they drew nearer, 
until they were within arm's length again. I 
winced like a beaten horse as they came near 
to us. The shorter, thicker Selenite marched 
at first on our right flank, but presently came 
in front of us again. 

How well the picture of that grouping has 
bitten into my brain ; the back of Cavor's 
downcast head just in front of me, and the 
dejected droop of his shoulders, and our guide's 
gaping visage, perpetually jerking about him, 
and the goad-bearers on either side, watchful, 
yet open-mouthed — a blue monochrome. And, 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 163 

after all, I do remember one other thing besides 
the purely personal affair, which is, that a sort 
of gutter came presently across the floor of the 
cavern, and then ran along by the side of the 
path of rock we followed. And it was full of 
that same bright blue luminous stuff that flowed 
out of the great machine. I walked close be- 
side it, and I can testify it radiated not a par- 
ticle of heat. It was brightly shining, and yet 
it was neither warmer nor colder than anything 
else in the cavern. 

Clang, clang, clang, we passed right under 
the thumping levers of another vast machine, 
and so came at last to a wide tunnel, in which 
we could even hear the pad, pad of our shoeless 
feet, and which, save for the trickling thread of 
blue to the right of us, was quite unlit. The 
shadows made gigantic travesties of our shapes 
and those of the Selenites on the irregular wall 
and roof of the tunnel. Ever and again crystals 
in the walls of the tunnel scintillated like gems, 
ever and again the tunnel expanded into a 
stalactitic cavern, or gave off branches that 
vanished into darkness. 

We seemed to be marching down that tunnel 
for a long time. ** Trickle, trickle," went the 
flowing light very softly, and our footfalls and 
their echoes made an Irregular paddle, paddle. 



i64 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

My mind settled down to the question of my 
chains. If I were to slip off one turn so, and 
then to twist it ^^ . . . 

If I tried to do it very gradually, would they 
see I was slipping my wrist out of the looser 
turn ? If they did, what would they do ? 

*' Bedford," said Cavor, ** it goes down. It 
keeps on going down." 

His remark roused me from my sullen pre- 
occupation. 

** If they wanted to kill us," he said, dropping 
back to come level with me, ** there is no reason 
why they should not have done it." 

*'No," I admitted, ''that's true." 

*' They don't understand us," he said, " they 
think we are merely strange animals, some 
wild sort of mooncalf birth, perhaps. It 
will be only when they have observed us 
better that they will begin to think we have 
minds " 

'* When you trace those geometrical prob- 
lems," said I. 

" It may be that." 

We tramped on for a space. 

"You see," said Cg-vor, "these may be 
Selenites of a lower class." 

** The infernal fools ! " said I viciously, 
glancing at their exasperating faces. 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 165 

"If we endure what they do to us " 

"WeVe got to endure it," said I. 

" There may be others less stupid. This 
Is the mere outer fringe of their world. It 
must go down and down, cavern, passage, 
tunnel, down at last to the sea — hundreds of 
miles below." 

His words made me think of the miile or so 
of rock and tunnel that might be over our heads 
already. It was like a weight dropping on my 
shoulders. "Away from the sun and air," I 
said. " Even a mine half a mile deep is stuffy." 

*' This is not, anyhow. It's probable — 
Ventilation ! The air would blow from the 
dark side of the moon to the sunlit, and all 
the carbonic acid would well out there and 
feed those plants. Up this tunnel, for example, 
there is quite a breeze. And what a world it 
must be. The earnest we have in that shaft, 
and those machines " 

" And the goad," I said. " Don't forget the 
goad ! " 

He walked a little in front of me for a time. 

** Even that goad — " he said. 

" Well ? " 

" I was angry at the time. But — It was 
perhaps necessary we should get on. They 
have different skins, and probably different 



i66 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

nerves. They may not understand our objec- 
tion — Just as a being from Mars might not 

like our earthly habit of nudging " 

** They'd better be careful how they nudge 



me,'' 



** And about that geometry. After all, their 
way is a way of understanding, too. They 
begin with the elements of life and not of 
thought. Food. Compulsion. Pain. They 
strike at fundamentals." 

** There's no doubt about ^^af/' I said. 

He went on to talk of the enormous and 
wonderful world into which we were being 
taken. I realised slowly from his tone, that 
even now he was not absolutely in despair at 
the prospect of going ever deeper into this 
inhuman planet - burrow. His mind ran on 
machines and invention, to the exclusion of a 
thousand dark things that beset me. It wasn't 
that he intended to make any use of these 
things, he simply wanted to know them. 

** After all," he said, ** this is a tremendous 
occasion. It is the meeting of two worlds ! 
What are we going to see? Think of what 
is below us here." 

** We shan't see much if the light isn't 
better," I remarked. 

" This is only the outer crust. Down 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 167 

below— On this scale — There will be every- 
thing. Do you notice how different they seem 
one from another ? The story we shall take 
back ! " 

" Some rare sort of animal," I said, ** might 
comfort himself in that way while they were 
bringing him to the Zoo. . . . It doesn't follow 
that we are going to be shown all these things." 

** When they find we have reasonable minds," 
said Cavor, '' they will want to learn about the 
earth. Even if they have no generous emo- 
tions, they will teach in order to learn. . . . 
And the things they must know ! The unanti- 
cipated things ! " 

He went on to speculate on the possibility 
of their knowing things he had never hoped 
to learn on earth, speculating in that way, with 
a raw wound from that goad already in his 
skin ! Much that he said I forget, for my 
attention was drawn to the fact that the tunnel 
along which we had been marching was open- 
ing out wider and wider. We seemed, from 
the feeling of the air, to be going out into a 
huge space. But how big the space might 
really be we could not tell, because it was unlit. 
Our little stream of light ran in a dwind- 
ling thread and vanished far ahead. Presently 
the rocky walls had vanished altogether on 



i68 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

either hand. There was nothing to be seen 
but the path in front of us and the trickling, 
hurrying rivulet of blue phosphorescence. The 
figures of Cavor and the guiding Selenite 
marched before me, the sides of their legs and 
heads that were towards the rivulet were clear 
and bright blue, their darkened sides, now that 
the reflection of the tunnel wall no longer lit 
them, merged indistinguishably in the darkness 
beyond. 

And soon I perceived that we were approach- 
ing a declivity of some sort, because the little 
blue stream dipped suddenly out of sight. 

In another moment, as it seemed, we had 
reached the edge. The shining stream gave 
one meander of hesitation and then rushed 
over. It fell to a depth at which the sound 
of its descent was absolutely lost to us. Far 
below was a bluish glow, a sort of blue mist — 
at an infinite distance below. And the dark- 
ness the stream dropped out of became ut- 
terly void and black, save that a thing like a 
plank projected from the edge of the cliff and 
stretched out and faded and vanished alto- 
gether. There was a warm air blowing up out 
of the gulf. 

For a moment I and Cavor stood as near 
the edge as we dared, peering into a blue- 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 169 

tinged profundity. And then our guide was 
pulling at my arm. 

Then he left me, and walked to the end of 
that plank and stepped upon it, looking back. 
Then when he perceived we watched him, he 
turned about and went on along it, walking 
as surely as though he was on firm earth. For 
a moment his form was distinct, then he be- 
came a blue blur, and then vanished into the 
obscurity. I became aware of some vague 
shape looming darkly out of the black. 

There was a pause. " Surely — ! " said 
Cavor. 

One of the other Selenites walked a few 
paces out upon the plank, and turned and 
looked back at us unconcernedly. The others 
stood ready to follow after us. Our guide s 
expectant figure reappeared. He was return- 
ing to see why we had not advanced. 

" What is that beyond there ? " I asked. 

" I can't see." 

" We can't cross this at any price," said I. 

** I could not go three steps on it," said 
Cavor, " even with my hands free." 

We looked at each other's drawn faces in 
blank consternation. 

"They can't know what it is to be giddy!" 
said Cavor. 



I70 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" It's quite impossible for us to walk that 
plank." 

** I don't believe they see as we do. IVe 
been watching them. I wonder if they know 
this is simply blackness for us. How can 
we make them understand?" 

" Anyhow, we must make them understand." 

I think we said these things with a vague 
half hope the Selenites might somehow under- 
stand. I knew quite clearly that all that was 
needed was an explanation. Then as I saw 
their faces, I realised that an explanation was 
impossible. Just here it was that our re- 
semblances were not going to bridge our 
differences. Well, I wasn't going to walk 
the plank, anyhow. I slipped my wrist very 
quickly out of the coil of chain that was loose, 
and then began to twist my wrists in opposite 
directions. I was standing nearest to the 
bridge, and as I did this two of the Selen- 
ites laid hold of me, and pulled me gently 
towards it. 

I shook my head violently. " No go," I 
said, " no use. You don't understand." 

Another Selenite added his compulsion. I 
was forced to step forward. 

" I've got an idea," said Cavor ; but I knew 
his ideas. 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 171 

" Look here ! " I exclaimed to the Selenites. 
'* Steady on ! It's all very well for you " 

I sprang round upon my heel. I burst out 
into curses. For one of the armed Selenites 
had stabbed me behind with his goad. 

I wrenched my wrists free from the little 
tentacles that held them. I turned on the 
goad-bearer. ** Confound you ! " I cried. ** I've 
warned you of that. What on earth do you 
think I'm made of, to stick that into me? If 
you touch me again ! " 

By way of answer he pricked me forthwith. 

I heard Cavor's voice in alarm and entreaty. 
Even then I think he wanted to compromise 
with these creatures. ** I say, Bedford," he 
cried, *' I know a way ! " But the sting of that 
second stab sdemed to set free some pent-up 
reserve of energy in my being. Instantly the 
link of the wrist-chain snapped, and with it 
snapped all considerations that had held us 
unresisting in the hands of these moon crea- 
tures. For that second, at least, I was mad 
with fear and anger. I took no thought of 
consequences. I hit straight out at the face 
of the thing with the goad. The chain was 
twisted round my fist. . . . 

There came another of these beastly sur- 
prises of which the moon world is full. 



172 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

My mailed hand seemed to go clean through 
him. He smashed like — like some softish sort 
of sweet with liquid in it ! He broke right 
in ! He squelched and splashed. It was like 
hitting a damp toadstool. The flimsy body 
went spinning a dozen yards, and fell with 
a flabby impact. I was astonished. I was 
incredulous that any living thing could be so 
flimsy. For an instant I could have believed 
the whole thing a dream. 

Then it had become real and imminent again. 
Neither Cavor nor the other Selenites seemed 
to have done anything from the time when I 
had turned about to the time when the dead 
Selenite hit the ground. Every one stood 
back from us two, every one alert. That 
arrest seemed to last at least a second after 
the Selenite was down. Every one must have 
been taking the thing in. I seem to remember 
myself standing with my arm half retracted, 
trying also to take it in. ''What next.f^" 
clamoured my brain ; *' what next ? " Then 
in a moment every one was moving ! 

I perceived we must get our chains loose, 
and that before we could do this these Selen- 
ites had to be beaten off. I faced towards the 
group of the three goad - bearers. Instantly 
one threw his goad at me. It swished over 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 173 

my head, and I suppose went flying into the 
abyss behind. 

I leaped right at him with all my might as 
the goad flew over me. He turned to run 
as I jumped, and I bore him to the ground, 
came down right upon him, and slipped upon 
his smashed body and fell. He seemed to 
wriggle under my foot. 

I came into a sitting position, and on every 
hand the blue backs of the Selenites were 
receding into the darkness. I bent a link by 
main force and untwisted the chain that had 
hampered me about the ankles, and sprang to 
my feet, with the chain in my hand. Another 
goad, flung javelin-wise, whistled by me, and 
I made a rush towards the darkness out of 
which it had come. Then I turned back 
towards Cavor, who was still standing in the 
light of the rivulet near the gulf convulsively 
busy with his wrists, and at the same time 
jabbering nonsense about his idea, 

'' Come on ! " I cried. 

'* My hands ! " he answered. 

Then, realising that I dared not run back to 
him, because my ill-calculated steps might carry 
me over the edge, he came shuffling towards 
me, with his hands held out before him. 

I gripped his chains at once to unfasten them. 



174 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" Where are they ? " he panted. 

** Run away. They'll come back. They're 
throwing things ! Which way shall we go ? " 

*' By the light. To that tunnel. Eh ? " 

** Yes/' said I, and his hands were free. 

I dropped on my knees and fell to work on 
his ankle bonds. Whack came something — 
I know not what — and splashed the livid 
streamlet into drops about us. Far away on 
our right a piping and whistling began. 

I whipped the chain off his feet, and put 
it in his hand. ** Hit with that!" I said, and 
without waiting for an answer, set off in big 
bounds along the path by v/hich we had come. 
I had a nasty sort of feeling that these things 
could jump out of the darkness on to my back. 
I heard the impact of his leaps come following 
after me. 

We ran in vast strides. But that running, 
you must understand, was an altogether dif- 
ferent thing from any running on earth. On 
earth one leaps and almost instantly hits the 
ground again, but on the moon, because of 
its weaker pull, one shot through the air for 
several seconds before one came to earth. In 
spite of our violent hurry this gave an effect 
of long pauses, pauses in which one might 
have counted seven or eight. " Step," and one 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 175 

soared off! All sorts of questions ran through 
my mind : ** Where are the Selenites ? What 
will they do ? Shall we ever get to that tunnel ? 
Is Cavor far behind ? Are they likely to cut 
him off?" Then whack, stride, and off again 
for another step. 

I saw a Selenite running in front of me, his 
legs going exactly as a man's would go on 
earth, saw him glance over his shoulder, and 
heard him shriek as he ran aside out of my 
way into the darkness. He was, I think, our 
guide, but I am not sure. Then in another 
vast stride the walls of rock had come into 
view on either hand, and in two more strides 
I was in the tunnel, and tempering my pace 
to its low roof. I went on to a bend, then 
stopped and turned back, and plug, plug, plug, 
Cavor came into view, splashing into the stream 
of blue light at every stride, and grew larger 
and blundered into me. We stood clutching 
each other. For a moment, at least, we had 
shaken off our captors and were alone. 

We were both very much out of breath. 
We spoke in panting, broken sentences. 

" You've spoilt it all ! " panted Cavor. 

*' Nonsense," I cried. ** It was that or 
death ! " 

" What are we to do ? " 



176 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" Hide. " 

" How can we ? " 

"It's dark enough." 

" But where ? " 

'' Up one of these side caverns." 

'' And then ? " 

- Think." 

*' Right — come on." 

We strode on, and presently came to a 
radiating dark cavern. Cavor was in front. 
He hesitated, and chose a black mouth that 
seemed to promise good hiding. He went 
towards it and turned. 

" It's dark," he said. 

*' Your legs and feet will light us. YouVe 
wet with that luminous stuff." 

" But " 

A tumult of sounds, and in particular a 
sound like a clanging gong, advancing up the 
main tunnel, became audible. It was horribly 
suggestive of a tumultuous pursuit. We made 
a bolt for the unlit side cavern forthwith. As 
we ran along it our way was lit by the irradia- 
tion of Cavor's legs. " It's lucky," I panted, 
" they took off our boots, or we should fill this 
place with clatter." On we rushed, taking as 
small steps as we could to avoid striking the 
roof of the cavern. After a time we seemed 




" Bedford," he whispered, " there's a sort of Hght in front of us 



THE GIDDY BRIDGE 177 

to be gaining on the uproar. It became 
muffled, it dwindled, it died away. 

I stopped and looked back, and I heard 
the pad, pad of Cavor's feet receding. Then 
he stopped also. '* Bedford," he whispered ; 
** there's a sort of light in front of us." 

I looked, and at first could see nothing. 
Then I perceived his head and shoulders 
dimly outlined against a fainter darkness. I 
saw, also, that this mitigation of the darkness 
was not blue, as all the other light within the 
moon had been, but a pallid grey, a very vague, 
faint white, the daylight colour. Cavor noted 
this difference as soon or sooner than J did, 
and I think, too, that it filled him with n u^^h 
the same wild hope. 

" Bedford," he whispered, and his voice 
trembled. " That light — it is possible " 

He did not dare to say the thing he hoped. 
Then came a pause. Suddenly I knew by the 
sound of his feet that he was striding towards 
that pallor. I followed him with a beating 
heart. 



M 



XVI 

POINTS OF VIEW 

The light grew stronger as we advanced. In 
a little time it was nearly as strong as the 
phosphorescence on Cavor's legs. Our tunnel 
was expanding into a cavern, and this new 
light was at the farther end of it. I per- 
ceived something that set my hopes leaping 
a;iu bounding. 

"Cavor," I said, "it comes from above! I 
am certain it comes from above ! " 

He made no answer, but hurried on. 

Indisputably it was a grey light, a silvery 
light. 

In another moment we were beneath it. It 
filtered down through a chink in the walls of 
the cavern, and as I stared up, drip, came a 
drop of water upon my face. I started and 
stood aside — drip, fell another drop quite 
audibly on the rocky floor. 

'' Cavor," I said, " if one of us lifts the other, 

he can reach that crack ! " 

178 



POINTS OF VIEW 179 

*' I'll lift you," he said, and incontinently- 
hoisted me as though I was a baby. 

I thrust an arm into the crack, and just at 
my finger tips found a little ledge by which I 
could hold. I could see the white light was 
very much brighter now. I pulled myself up 
by two fingers with scarcely an effort, though 
on earth I weigh twelve stone, reached to a 
still higher corner of rock, and so got my 
feet on the narrow ledge. I stood up and 
searched up the rocks with my fingers ; the 
cleft broadened out upwardly. ''It's climb- 
able," I said to Cavor. " Can you jump up 
to my hand if I hold it down to you ? " 

I wedged myself between the sides of the 
cleft, rested knee and foot on the ledge, and 
extended a hand. I could not see Cavor, but 
I could hear the rustle of his movements as he 
crouched to spring. Then whack and he was 
hanging to my arm — and no heavier than a 
kitten 1 I lugged him up until he had a hand 
on my ledge, and could release me. 

** Confound it ! " I said, " any one could be a 
mountaineer on the moon ; " and so set myself 
in earnest to the climbing. For a few minutes 
I clambered steadily, and then I looked up again. 
The cleft opened out steadily, and the light 
was brighter. Only ■ 



i8o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

It was not daylight after all ! 

In another moment I could see what it was, 
and at the sight I could have beaten my head 
against the rocks with disappointment. For I 
beheld simply an irregularly sloping open space, 
and all over its slanting floor stood a forest of 
little club-shaped fungi, each shining gloriously 
with that pinkish silvery light. For a moment 
I stared at their soft radiance, then sprang for- 
ward and upward among them. I plucked up 
half-a-dozen and flung them against the rocks, 
and then sat down, laughing bitterly, as Cavor's 
ruddy face came into view. 

** It's phosphorescence again ! " I said. "No 
need to hurry. Sit down and make yourself 
at home." And as he spluttered over our 
disappointment, I began to lob more of these 
growths into the cleft. 

** I thought it was daylight," he said. 

" Daylight ! *' cried I. " Daybreak, sunset, 
clouds, and windy skies ! Shall we ever see 
such things again ? " - 

As I spoke, a little picture of our world 
seemed to rise before me, bright and little and 
clear, like the background of some old Italian 
picture. " The sky that changes, and the sea 
that changes, and the hills and the green trees 
and the towns and cities shining in the sun. 



POINTS OF VIEW i8i 

Think of a wet roof at sunset, Cavor ! Think 
of the windows of a westward house ! " 

He made no answer. 

*' Here we are burrowing in this beastly- 
world that isn't a world, with its inky ocean 
hidden in some abominable blackness below, 
and outside that torrid day and that death 
stillness of night. And all those things that 
are chasing us now, beastly men of leather — 
insect men, that come out of a nightmare ! 
After all, they're right! What business have 
we here smashing them and disturbing their 
world ? For all we know the whole planet is 
up and after us already. In a minute we may 
hear them whimpering, and their gongs going. 
What are we to do ? Where are we to go ? 
Here we are as comfortable as snakes from 
Jamrach's loose in a Surbiton villa ! " 

"It was your fault," said Cavor. 

** My fault ! " I shouted. " Good Lord ! " 

" I had an idea ! " 

" Curse your ideas ! " 

" If we had refused to budge " 

" Under these goads ? " 

" Yes. They would have carried us ! " 

" Over that bridge ? " 

**Yes. They must have carried us from 
outside." 



i82 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

*' Vd rather be carried by a fly across a 
ceiling." 

" Good Heavens ! " 

I resumed my destruction of the fungi. 
Then suddenly I saw something that struck me 
even then. 

** Cavor," I said, " these chains are of gold ! " 

He was thinking intently, with his hands 
gripping his cheeks. He turned his head 
slowly and stared at me, and when I had re- 
peated my words, at the twisted chain about 
his right hand. *' So they are," he said, " so 
they are." His face lost its transitory interest 
even as he looked. He hesitated for a moment, 
then went on with his interrupted meditation. 
I sat for a space puzzling over the fact that I 
had only just observed this, until I considered 
the blue light in which we had been, and which 
had taken all the colour out of the metal. And 
from that discovery I also started upon a train 
of thought that carried me wide and far. I 
forgot that I had just been asking what busi- 
ness we had in the moon. Gold 

It was Cavor who spoke first. "It seems 
to me that there are two courses open to 



us." 



"Well?" 

" Either we can attempt to make our way — 



POINTS OF VIEW 183 

fight our way if necessary — out to the exterior 
again, and then hunt for our sphere until 
we find it, or the cold of the night comes to 
kill us, or else " 

He paused. " Yes ? " I said, though I knew 
what was coming. 

" We might attempt once more to establish 
some sort of understanding with the minds of 
the people in the moon." 

" So far as I'm concerned — it's the first." 

'' I doubt." 

" I don't." 

"You see," said Cavor, " I do not think we 
can judge the Selenites by what we have seen 
of them. Their central world, their civilised 
world will be far below in the profounder 
caverns about their sea. This region of the 
crust in which we are is an outlying district, a 
pastoral region. At any rate, that is my inter- 
pretation. These Selenites we have seen may 
be only the equivalent of cowboys and engine 
tenders. Their use of goads — in all proba- 
bility mooncalf goads — the lack of imagination 
they show in expecting us to be able to do just 
what they can do, their indisputable brutality, 
all seem to point to something of that sort. 
But if we endured " 

" Neither of us could endure a six-inch 



i84 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

plank across the bottomless pit for very 
long." 

" No," said Cavor ; ** but then " 

" I won'^" I said. 

He discovered a new line of possibilities. 
" Well, suppose we got ourselves into some 
corner, where we could defend ourselves 
against these hinds and labourers. If, for 
example, we could hold out for a week or so. 
It is probable that the news of our appearance 
would filter down to the more intelligent and 
populous parts " 

*' If they exist." 

" Thev must exist, or whence came those 
tremendous machines ? " 

** That's possible, but it's the worst of the 
two chances." 

** We might write up inscriptions on walls — " 

" How do we know their eyes would see the 
sort of marks we made ^ " 

" If we cut them " 

" That's possible, of course." 

I took up a new thread of thought. ** After 
all," I said, " I suppose you don't think these 
Selenites so infinitely wiser than men." 

''They must know a lot more — or at least a 
lot of different things." 

'' Yes, but — " I hesitated. 



POINTS OF VIEW 185 

" I think you'll quite admit, Cavor, that you're 
rather an exceptional man." 
"How?" 

" Well, you — you're a rather lonely man — 
have been, that is. You haven't married." 

** Never wanted to. But why ? " 

" And you never grew richer than you hap- 
pened to be ? " 

" Never wanted that either." 

" Y'"' 've just rooted after knowledge ? " 

" Well, a certain curiosity is natural " 

** You think so. That's just it. You think 
every other mind wants to know, I remember 
once, when I asked you why you conducted all 
these researches, you said you wanted your 
F.R.S., and to have the stuff called Cavorite, 
and things like that. You know perfectly well 
you didn't do it for that ; but at the time my 
question took you by surprise, and you felt you 
ought to have something to look like a motive. 
Really you conducted researches because you 
had to. It's your twist." 

" Perhaps it is " 

"It isn't one man in a million has that twist. 
Most men want — well, various things, but very 
few want knowledge for its own sake, /don't, 
I know perfectly well. Now, these Selenites 
seem to be a driving, busy sort of being, but 



i86 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

how do you know that even the most intelli- 
gent will take an interest in us or our world ? 
I don't believe they'll even know we have a 
world. They never come out at night— they'd 
freeze if they did. They've probably never 
seen any heavenly body at all except the blazing 
sun. How are they to know there zs another 
world ? What does it matter to them if they 
do ? Well, even if they kave had a glimpse of 
a few stars, or even of the earth crescent, what 
of that? Why should people living inside a 
planet trouble to observe that sort of thing ? 
Men wouldn't have done it except for the 
seasons and sailing ; why should the moon 
people ? . . . 

" Well, suppose there are a few philosophers 
like yourself. They are just the very Selenites 
who'll never hear of our existence. Suppose a 
Selenite had dropped on the earth when you 
were at Lympne, you'd have been the last man 
in the world to hear he had come. You never 
read a newspaper ! You see the chances against 
you. Well, it's for these chances we're sitting 
here doing nothing while precious time is flying. 
I tell you we've got into a fix. We've come 
unarmed, we've lost our sphere, we've got no 
food, we've shown ourselves to the Selenites, 
and made them think we're strange, strong. 



POINTS OF VIEW 187 

dangerous animals ; and unless these Selenites 
are perfect fools, they'll set about now and 
hunt us till they find us, and when they find 
us they'll try and take us if they can, and kill us 
if they can't, and that's the end of the matter. 
If they take us, they'll probably kill us, through 
some misunderstanding. After we're done for, 
they may discuss us perhaps, but we shan't get 
much fun out of that." 

" Go on." 

"On the other hand, here's gold knocking 
about like cast iron at home. If only we can 
get some of it back, if only we can find our 
sphere again before they do, and get back, 
then ^" 

**Yes?" 

"We might put the thing on a sounder 
footing. Come back in a bigger sphere with 
guns." 

" Good Lord ! " cried Cavor, as though that 
was horrible. 

I shied another luminous fungus down the 
cleft. 

" Look here, Cavor," I said, " I've half the 
voting power anyhow in this affair, and this is 
a case for a practical man. I'm a practical 
man, and you are not. I'm not going to trust 
to Selenites and geometrical diagrams again, if 



i88 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I can help it. . . . That's all. Get back. Drop 
all this secrecy — or most of it. And come 
again." 

He reflected. "When I came to the moon," 
he said, " I ought to have come alone." 

** The question before the meeting," I said, 
** is how to get back to the sphere." 

For a time we nursed our knees in silence. 
Then he seemed to decide for my reasons. 

" I think," he said, ** one can get data. It is 
clear that while the sun is on this side of the 
moon the air will be blowing thrqugh this 
planet sponge from the dark side hither. On 
this side, at any rate, the air will be expand- 
ing and flowing out of the moon caverns into 
the craters. . . . Very well, there's a draught 
here." 

*' So there is." 

" And that means that this is not a dead end ; 
somewhere behind us this cleft goes on and up. 
The draught is blowing up, and that is the way 
we have to go. If we try and get up any sort 
of chimney or gully there is, we shall not only 
get out of these passages where they are hunt- 
ing for us " 

" But suppose the gully is too narrow ? " 

" We'll come down again." 

'' Ssh ! " I said suddenly ; '' what's that ? " 



POINTS OF VIEW 189 

We listened. At first it was an indistinct 
murmur, and then one picked out the clang of 
a gong. ** They must think we are moon- 
calves," said I, **to be frightened at that." 

"They're coming along that passage," said 
Cavor. 

" They must be." 

"They'll not think of the cleft. They'll go 
past." 

I listened again for a space. " This time," 
I whispered, "they're likely to have some sort 
of weapon." 

Then suddenly I sprang to my feet. " Good 
heavens, Cavor!" I cried. "But they wi'/l! 
They'll see the fungi I have been pitching 
down. They'll !" 

I didn't finish my sentence. I turned about 
and made a leap over the fungus tops towards 
the upper end of the cavity. I saw that the 
space turned upward and became a draughty 
cleft again, ascending to impenetrable dark- 
ness. I was about to clamber up into this, and 
then with a happy inspiration turned back. 

" What are you doing ? " asked Cavor. 

" Go on ! " said I, and went back and got two 
of the shining fungi, and putting one into the 
breast pocket of my flannel jacket, so that it 
stuck out to light our climbing, went back with 



I90 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

the other for Cavor. The noise of the Selenites 
was now so loud that it seemed they must be 
already beneath the cleft. But it might be they 
would have difficulty in clambering into it, or 
might hesitate to ascend it against our possible 
resistance. At any rate, we had now the com- 
forting knowledge of the enormous muscular 
superiority our birth in another planet gave 
us. In another minute I was clambering with 
gigantic vigour after Cavor's blue-lit heels. 



XVII 

THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE OF THE MOON BUTCHERS 

I DO not know how far we clambered before 
we came to the grating. It may be we as- 
cended only a few hundred feet, but at the 
time it seemed to me we might have hauled 
and jammed and hopped and wedged ourselves 
through a mile or more of vertical ascent. 
Whenever I recall that time, there comes into 
my head the heavy clank of our golden chains 
that followed every movement. Very soon 
my knuckles and knees were raw, and I had 
a bruise on one cheek. After a time the first 
violence of our efforts diminished, and our 
movements became more deliberate and less 
painful. The noise of the pursuing Selenites 
had died away altogether. It seemed almost 
as though they had not traced us up the crack 
I after all, in spite of the tell-tale heap of broken 
fungi that must have lain beneath it. At times 
the cleft narrowed so much that we could scarce 

I squeeze up it ; at others it expanded into great 

191 



192 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

drusy cavities, studded with prickly crystals, 
or thickly beset with dull, shining fungoid 
pimples. Sometimes it twisted spirally, and 
at other times slanted down nearly to the 
horizontal direction. Ever and again there 
was the intermittent drip and trickle of water 
by us. Once or twice it seemed to us that 
small living things had rustled out of our 
reach, but what they were we never saw. 
They may have been venomous beasts for all 
I know, but they did us no harm, and we were 
now tuned to a pitch when a weird creeping 
thing more or less mattered little. And at 
last, far above, came the familiar bluish light 
again, and then we saw that it filtered through 
a grating that barred our way. 

We whispered as we pointed this out to one 
another, and became more and more cautious 
in our ascent. Presently we were close under 
the grating, and by pressing my face against 
its bars I could see a limited portion of the 
cavern beyond. It was clearly a large space, 
and lit no doubt by some rivulet of the same 
blue light that we had seen flow from the 
beating machinery. An intermittent trickle 
of water dropped ever and again between the 
bars near my face. 

My first endeavour was naturally to see 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 193 

what might be upon the floor of the cavern, 
but our grating lay in a depression whose rim 
hid all this from our eyes. Our foiled atten- 
tion then fell back upon the suggestion of 
the various sounds we heard, and presently 
my eye caught a number of faint shadows that 
played across the dim roof far overhead. 

Indisputably there were several Selenites, 
perhaps a considerable number, in this space, 
for we could hear the noises of their inter- 
course, and faint sounds that I identified as 
their footfalls. There was also a succession 
^ of regularly repeated sounds — chid, chid, chid 
— which began and ceased, suggestive of a 
knife or spade hacking at some soft substance. 
Then came a clank as if of chains, a whistle 
and a rumble as of a truck running over a 
hollowed place, and then again that chid, chid, 
chid resumed. The shadows told of shapes 
that moved quickly and rhythmically, in agree- 
ment with that regular sound, and rested when 
it ceased. 

We put our heads close together, and began 
to discuss these things in noiseless whispers. 

" They are occupied," I said, ** they are 
occupied in some way." 

*'Yes." 

" TheyVe not seeking us, or thinking of us." 

N 



194 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

"■ Perhaps they have not heard of us." 

" Those others are hunting about below. 
If suddenly we appeared here " 

We looked at one another. 

'' There might be a chance to parley," said 
Cavor. 

" No," I said. '* Not as we are." 

For a space we remained, each occupied by 
his own thoughts. 

Chid, chid, chid went the chopping, and the 
shadows moved to and fro. 

I looked at the grating. *' It's flimsy," I 
said. " We might bend two of the bars and 
crawl through." 

We wasted a little time in vague discussion. 
Then I took one of the bars in both hands, 
and got my feet up against the rock until they 
were almost on a level with my head, and so 
thrust against the bar. It bent so suddenly 
that I almost slipped. I clambered about and 
bent the adjacent bar in the opposite direction, 
and then took the luminous fungus from my 
pocket and dropped it down the fissure. 

" Don't do anything hastily," whispered 
Cavor, as I twisted myself up through the 
opening I had enlarged. I had a glimpse of 
busy figures as I came through the grating, 
and immediately bent down, so that the rim 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 195 

of the depression in which the grating lay hid 
me from their eyes, and so lay flat, signalling 
advice to Cavor as he also prepared to come 
through. Presently we were side by side in 
the depression, peering over the edge at the 
cavern and its occupants. 

It was a much larger cavern than we had 
supposed from our first glimpse of it, and we 
looked up from the lowest portion of its sloping 
floor. It widened out as it receded from us, 
and its roof came down and hid the remoter 
portion altogether. And lying in a line along 
its length, vanishing at last far away in that 
tremendous perspective, were a number of 
huge shapes, huge pallid hulls, upon which 
the Selenites were busy. At first they seemed 
big white cylinders of vague import Then 
I noted the heads upon them lying towards 
us, eyeless and skinless like the heads of sheep 
at a butcher's, and perceived they were the 
carcasses of mooncalves being cut up, much 
as the crew of a whaler might cut up a moored 
whale. They were cutting oflf the flesh in 
strips, and on some of the farther trunks the 
white ribs were showing. It was the sound 
of their hatchets that made that chid, chid. 
Some way away a thing like a trolley cable, 
drawn and loaded with chunks of lax, meat, 



196 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

was running up the slope of the cavern floor. 
This enormous long avenue of hulls that were 
destined to be food, gave us a sense of the 
vast populousness of the moon world second 
only to the effect of our first glimpse down 
the shaft. 

It seemed to me at first that the Selenites 
must be standing on trestle-supported planks/ 
and then I saw that the planks and supports 
and their hatchets were really of the same 
leaden hue as my fetters had seemed before 
white light came to bear on them. A number 
of very thick-looking crowbars lay about the 
floor, and had apparently assisted to turn the 
dead mooncalf over on its side. They were 
perhaps six feet long, with shaped handles, 
very tempting-looking weapons. The whole 
place was lit by three transverse streams of 
the blue fluid. 

We lay for a long time noting all these 
things in silence. **Well ?" said Cavor at last. 

I crouched lower and turned to him. I had 
come upon a brilliant idea. ''Unless they 

^ I do not remember seeing any wooden things on the moon ; 
doors, tables, everything corresponding to our terrestrial joinery 
was made of metal, and I believe for the most part of gold, 
which as a metal would, of course, naturally recommend itself — 
other things being equal — on account of the ease in working it, 
and its toughness and durability. 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 197 

lowered those bodies by a crane," I said, **we 
must be nearer the surface than I thought/' 

*'Why?'' 

"The mooncalf doesn't hop, and it hasn't 
got wings." 

He peered over the edge of the hollow again.. 
*' I wonder now . . ."he began. ** After all, 
we have never gone far from the surface " 

I stopped him by a grip on his arm. I had 
heard a noise from the cleft below us ! 

We twisted ourselves about, and lay as still 
as death, with every sense alert. In a little 
while I did not doubt that something was 
quietly ascending the cleft. Very slowly and 
quite noiselessly I assured myself of a good 
grip on my chain, and waited for that some- 
thing to appear. 

" Just look at those chaps with the hatchets 
again," I said. 

" They're all right," said Cavor. 

I took a sort of provisional aim at the gap in 
the grating. I could hear now quite distinctly 
the soft twittering of the ascending Selenites, 
the dab of their hands against the rock, and 
the falling of dust from their grips as they 
clambered. 

Then I could see that there was something 
moving dimly in the blackness below the 



198 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

grating, but what it might be I could not dis- 
tinguish. The whole thing seemed to hang 
fire just for a moment — then smash ! I had 
sprung to my feet, struck savagely at some- 
thing that had flashed out at me. It was the 
keen point of a spear. I have thought since 
that its length in the narrowness of the cleft 
must have prevented its being sloped to reach 
me. Anyhow, it shot out from the grating like 
the tongue of a snake, and missed and flew 
back and flashed again. But the second time 
I snatched and caught it, and wrenched it 
away, but not before another had darted in- 
effectually at me. 

I shouted with triumph as I felt the hold of 
the Selenite resist my pull for a moment and 
give, and then I was jabbing down through the 
bars, amidst squeals from the darkness, and 
Cavor had snapped off the other spear, and 
was leaping and flourishing it beside me, 
and making inefficient jabs. Clang, clang, 
came up through the grating, and then an axe 
hurtled through the air and whacked against 
the rocks beyond, to remind me of the fleshers 
at the carcasses up the cavern. 

I turned, and they were all coming towards 
us in open order waving their axes. They 
were short, thick, little beggars, with long 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 199 

arms, strikingly different from the ones we 
had seen before. If they had not heard of us 
before, they must have realised the situation 
with incredible swiftness. I stared at them 
for a moment, spear in hand. '* Guard that 
grating, Cavor," I cried, howled to intimi- 
date them, and rushed to meet them. Two 
of them missed with their hatchets, and the 
rest fled incontinently. Then the two also 
were sprinting away up the cavern, with hands 
clenched and heads down. I never saw men 
run like them ! 

I knew the spear I had was no good for me. 
It was thin and flimsy, only effectual for a 
thrust, and too long for a quick recover. So 
I only chased the Selenites as far as the first 
carcass, and stopped there and picked up one 
of the crowbars that were lying about. It felt 
confortingly heavy, and equal to smashing any 
number of Selenites. I threw away my spear, 
and picked up a second crowbar for the other 
hand. I felt five times better than I had with 
the spear. I shook the two threateningly at 
the Selenites, who had come to a halt in a little 
crowd far away up the cavern, and then turned 
about to look at Cavor. 

He was leaping from side to side of the 
grating, making threatening jabs with his 



200 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

broken spear. That was all right. It would 
keep the Selenites down — for a time at any 
rate. I looked up the cavern again. What 
on earth were we going to do now ? 

We were cornered in a sort of way already. 
But these butchers up the cavern had been 
surprised, they were probably scared, and they 
had no special weapons, only those little 
hatchets of theirs. And that way lay escape. 
Their sturdy little forms — ever so much shorter 
and thicker than the mooncalf herds— were 
scattered up the slope in a way that was elo- 
quent of indecision. I had the moral advan- 
tage of a mad bull in a street. But for all 
that, there seemed a tremendous crowd of 
them. Very probably there was. Those 
Selenites down the cleft had certainly som.e 
infernally long spears. It might be they had 
other surprises for us. . . . But, confound it! 
if we charged up the cave we should let them 
up behind us, and if we didn't, those little 
brutes up the cave would probably get rein- 
forced. Heaven alone knew what tremendous 
engines of warfare — guns, bombs, terrestrial 
torpedoes — this unknown world below our feet, 
this vaster world of which we had only pricked 
the outer cuticle, might not presently send up 
to our destruction. It became clear the only 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 201 

thing to do was to charge ! It became clearer 
as the legs of a number of fresh Selenltes ap- 
peared running down the cavern towards us. 

** Bedford ! " cried Cavor, and behold ! he 
was half-way between me and the grating. 

** Go back ! " I cried. ** What are you 
doing " 

** They've got — it's like a gun ! " 

And struggling in the grating between those 
defensive spears appeared the head and shoul- 
ders of a singularly lean and angular Selenite, 
bearing some complicated apparatus. 

I realised Cavor's utter incapacity for the 
fight we had in hand. For a moment I hesi- 
tated. Then I rushed past him whirling my 
crowbars, and shouting to confound the aim of 
the Selenite. He was aiming in the queer- 
est way with the thing against his stomach. 
**Cku2z!" The thing wasn't a gun; it went 
off like a cross-bow more, and dropped me in 
the middle of a leap. 

I didn't fall down, I simply came down a 
little shorter than I should have done if I 
hadn't been hit, and from the feel of my 
shoulder the thing might have tapped me and 
glanced off. Then my left hand hit against 
the shaft, and I perceived there was a sort of 
spear sticking half through my shoulder. The 



202 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

moment after I got home with the crowbar 
in my right hand, and hit the Selenite fair 
and square. He collapsed — he crushed and 
crumpled — his head smashed like an Ggg, 

I dropped a crowbar, pulled the spear out of 
my shoulder, and began to jab it down the 
grating into the darkness. At each jab came 
a shriek and twitter. Finally I hurled the 
spear down upon them with all my strength, 
leapt up, picked up the crowbar again, and 
started for the multitude up the cavern. 

'' Bedford ! " cried Cavor. '' Bedford ! " as I 
flew past him. 

I seem to remember his footsteps coming 
on behind me. 

Step, leap . . . whack, step, leap. . . . 
Each leap seemed to last ages. With each, 
the cave opened out and the number of 
Selenites visible increased. At first they 
seemed all running about like ants in a dis- 
turbed ant-hill, one or two waving hatchets 
and coming to meet me, more running away, 
some bolting sideways into the avenue of 
carcasses, then presently others came in sight 
carrying spears, and then others. I saw a 
most extraordinary thing, all hands and feet, 
bolting for cover. The cavern grew darker 
farther up. Flick ! something flew over my 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 203 

head. Flick ! As I soared in mid-stride I saw 
a spear hit and quiver in one of the carcasses 
to my left. Then, as I came down, one hit 
the ground before me, and I heard the remote 
chuzz ! with which their things were fired. 
Flick, flick ! for a moment it was a shower. 
They were volleying ! 

I stopped dead. 

I don't think I thought clearly then. I seem 
to remember a kind of stereotyped phrase run- 
ning through my mind : ** Zone of fire, seek 
cover ! " I know I made a dash for the space 
between two of the carcasses, and stood there 
panting and feeling very wicked. 

I looked round for Cavor, and for a moment 
it seemed as if he had vanished from the world. 
Then he came out of the darkness between 
the row of the carcasses and the rocky wall 
of the cavern. I saw his little face, dark and 
blue, and shining with perspiration and emotion. 

He was saying something, but what it was 
I did not heed. I had realised that we might 
work from mooncalf to mooncalf up the cave 
until we were near enough to charge home. 
It was charge or nothing. ** Come on ! " I 
said, and led the way. 

** Bedford ! " he cried unavailingly. 

My mind was busy as we went up that 



204 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

narrow alley between the dead bodies and 
the wall of the cavern. The rocks curved 
about — they could not enfilade us. Though 
in that narrow space we could not leap, yet 
with our earth-born strength we were still able 
to go very much faster than the Selenites. 
I reckoned we should presently come right 
among them. Once we were on them, they 
would be nearly as formidable as black beetles. 
Only ! — there would first of all be a volley. 
I thought of a stratagem. I whipped off my 
flannel jacket as I ran. 

" Bedford ! " panted Cavor behind me, 

I glanced back. '' What ? " said I. 

He was pointing upward over the carcasses. 
*' White light ! " he said. *' White light again ! " 

I looked, and it was even so, a faint white 
ghost of twilight in the remoter cavern roof 
That seemed to give me double strength. 

** Keep close," I said. A flat, long Selenite 
dashed out of the darkness, and squealed and 
fled. I halted, and stopped Cavor with my 
hand. I hung my jacket over my crowbar, 
ducked round the next carcass, dropped jacket 
and crowbar, showed myself, and darted back. 

** Chuzz — flick," just one arrow came. We 
were close on the Selenites, and they were 
standing in a crowd, broad, short, and tall 



THE FIGHT IN THE CAVE 205 

together, with a little battery of their shooting 
implements pointing down the cave. Three 
or four other arrows followed the first, and 
then their fire ceased. 

I stuck out my head, and escaped by a 
hair's-breadth. This time I drew a dozen 
shots or more, and heard the Selenites shout- 
ing and twittering as if with excitement as they 
shot. I picked up jacket and crowbar again. 

*' JVow I " said I, and thrust out the jacket. 

** Chuzz-zz-zz-zz ! Chuzz ! In an instant my 
jacket had grown a thick beard of arrows, and 
they were quivering all over the carcass behind 
us. Instantly I slipped the crowbar out of the 
jacket, dropped the jacket — for all I know to 
the contrary it is lying up there in the moon 
now — and rushed out upon them. 

For a minute perhaps it was massacre. I 
was too fierce to discriminate, and the Selenites 
were probably too scared to fight. At any 
rate they made no sort of fight against me. I 
saw scarlet, as the saying is. I remember I 
seemed to be wading among those leathery, 
thin things as a man wades through tall grass, 
mowing and hitting, first right, then left ; smash, 
smash. Little drops of moisture flew about. 
I trod on things that crushed and piped and 
went slippery. The crowd seemed to open 
and close and flow like water. They seemed 



2o6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

to have no combined plan whatever. There 
were spears flew about me, I was grazed over 
the ear by one. I was stabbed once in the 
arm and once in the cheek, but I only found 
that out afterwards, when the blood had had 
time to run and cool and feel wet. 

What Cavor did I do not know. For a 
space it seemed that this fighting had lasted 
for an age, and must needs go on for ever. 
Then suddenly it was all over, and there was 
nothing to be seen but the backs of heads 
bobbing up and down as their owners ran in 
all directions ... I seemed altogether un- 
hurt. I ran forward some paces, shouting, 
then turned about. I was amazed. 

I had come right through them in vast flying 
strides, they were all behind me, and running 
hither and thither to hide. 

I felt an enormous, astonishment at the 
evaporation of the great fight into which I had 
hurled myself, and not a little of exultation. 
It did not seem to me that I had discovered 
the Selenites were unexpectedly flimsy, but 
that I was unexpectedly strong. I laughed 
stupidly. This fantastic moon 1 

I glanced for a moment at the smashed and 
writhing bodies that were scattered over the 
cavern floor, with a vague idea of further 
violence, then hurried on after Cavor. 



^ 



XVIII 

IN THE SUNLIGHT 

Presently we saw that the cavern before us 
opened on a hazy void. In another moment 
we had emerged upon a sort of slanting gallery, 
that projected into a vast circular space, a huge 
cylindrical pit running vertically up and down. 
Round this pit the slanting gallery ran without 
any parapet or protection for a turn and a half, 
and then plunged high above into the rock 
again. Somehow it reminded me then of one 
of those spiral turns of the railway through the 
Saint Gothard. It was all tremendously huge. 
I can scarcely hope to convey to you the Titanic 
proportion of all that place, the Titanic effect 
of it. Our eyes followed up the vast declivity 
of the pit wall, and overhead and far above 
we beheld a round opening set witji faint stars, 
and half of the lip about it well-nigh blinding 
with the white light of the sun. At that we 
cried aloud simultaneously. 

** Come on ! " I said, leading the way. 

207 



2o8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** But there ? " said Cavor, and very carefully- 
stepped nearer the edge of the gallery. I 
followed his example, and craned forward and 
looked down, but I was dazzled by that gleam 
of light above, and I could see only a bottomless 
darkness with spectral patches of crimson and 
purple floating therein. Yet if I could not see, 
I could hear. Out - of this darkness came a 
sound, a sound like the angry hum one can hear 
if one puts one's ear outside a hive of bees, a 
sound out of that enormous hollow, it may be, 
four miles beneath our feet. . . . 

For a moment I listened, then tightened my 
grip on my crowbar, and led the way up the 
gallery. 

*' This must be the shaft we looked down 
upon," said Cavor. " Under that lid." 

" And below there, is where we saw the 
lights." 

''The lights!" said he. **Yes — the lights 
of the world that now we shall never see." 

** We'll come back," I said, for now we had 
escaped so much I was rashly sanguine that 
we should recover the sphere. 

His answer I did not catch. 

"Eh?" I asked. 

" It doesn't matter," he answered, and we 
hurried on in silence. 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 209 

I suppose that slanting lateral way was four 
or five miles long, allowing for its curvature, 
and it ascended at a slope that would have 
made it almost impossibly steep on earth, but 
which one strode up easily under lunar con- 
ditions. We saw only two Selenites during 
all that portion of our flight, and directly they 
became aware of us they ran headlong. It 
was clear that the knowledge of our strength 
and violence had reached them. Our way to 
the exterior was unexpectedly plain. The 
spiral gallery straightened into a steeply ascen- 
dent tunnel, its floor bearing abundant traces 
of the mooncalves, and so straight and short 
in proportion to its vast arch, that no part of 
it was absolutely dark. Almost immediately 
it began to lighten, and then far off and high 
up, and quite blindingly brilliant, appeared 
its opening on the exterior, a slope of Alpine 
steepness surmounted by a crest of bayonet 
shrub, tall and broken down now, and dry and 
dead, in spiky silhouette against the sun. 

And it is strange that we men, to whom this 

very vegetation had seemed so weird and 

horrible a little time ago, should now behold 

it with the emotion a home-coming exile might 

feel at sight of his native land. We welcomed 

even the rareness of the air that made us pant 

o 



2IO THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

as we ran, and which rendered speaking no 
longer the easy thing that it had been, but 
an effort to make oneself heard. Larger grew 
the sunlit circle above us, and larger, and all 
the nearer tunnel sank into a rim of indis- 
tinguishable black. We saw the dead bayonet 
shrub no longer with any touch of green in 
it, but brown and dry and thick, and the shadow 
of its upper branches high out of sight made 
a densely interlaced pattern upon the tumbled 
rocks. And at the immediate mouth of the 
tunnel was a wide trampled space where the 
mooncalves had come and gone. 

We came out upon this space at last into 
a light and heat that hit and pressed upon 
us. We traversed the exposed area pain- 
fully, and clambered up a slope among the -M 
scrub stems, and sat down at last panting in 
a high place beneath the shadow of a mass 
of twisted lava. Even in the shade the rock 
felt hot. ^ 

The air was intensely hot, and we were in 
great physical discomfort, but for all that we 
were no longer in a nightmare. We seemed 
to have come to our own province again, 
beneath the stars. All the fear and stress 
of our flight through the dim passages and 
fissures below had fallen from us. That last 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 211 

fight had filled us with an enormous confidence 
in ourselves so far as the Selenites were con- 
cerned. We looked back almost incredulously 
at the black opening firom which we had just 
emerged. Down there it was, in a blue glow 
that now in our memories seemed the next 
thing to absolute darkness, we had met with 
things like mad mockeries of men, helmet- 
headed creatures, and had walked in fear be- 
fore them, and had submitted to them until we 
could submit no longer. And, behold, they had 
smashed like wax and scattered like chaff, and 
fled and vanished like the creatures of a dream ! 

I rubbed my eyes, doubting whether we had 
not slept and dreamt these things by reason 
of the fungus we had eaten, and suddenly dis- 
covered the blood upon my face, and then that 
my shirt was sticking painfully to my shoulder 
and arm. 

" Confound it ! " I said, gauging my injuries 
with an investigatory hand, and suddenly that 
distant tunnel mouth became, as it were, a 
watching eye. 

"Cavor!" I said; "what are they going to 
do now ? And what are we going to do ? " 

He shook his head, with his eyes fixed upon 
the tunnel. "How can one tell what they 
will do ? " 



212 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

"It depends on what they think of us, and 
I don't see how we can begin to guess that. 
And it depends upon what they have in re- 
serve. It's as you say, Cavor, we have 
touched the merest outside of this world. 
They may have all sorts of things inside here. 
Even with those shooting things they might 
make it bad for us. . . . 

** Yet after all," I said, *' even i^ wedon'^ find 
the sphere at once, there is a chance for us. 
We might hold out. Even through the night. 
We might go down there again and make a 
fight for it." 

I stared about me with speculative eyes. 
The character of the scenery had altered alto- 
gether by reason of the enormous growth and 
subsequent drying of the scrub. The crest 
on which we sat was high, and commanded a 
wide prospect of the crater landscape, and we 
saw it now all sere and dry in the late autumn 
of the lunar afternoon. Rising one behind the 
other were long slopes and fields of trampled 
brown where the mooncalves had pastured, 
and far away in the full blaze of the sun a 
drove of them basked slumberously, scattered 
shapes, each with a blot of shadow against it 
like sheep on the side of a down. But never a 
sign of a Selenite was to be seen. Whether 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 213 

they had fled on our emergence from the 
interior passages, or whether they were accus- 
tomed to retire after driving out the moon- 
calves, I cannot guess. At the time I believed 
the former was the case. 

"If we were to set fire to all this stuff," I 
said, "we might find the sphere among the 
ashes." 

Cavor did not seem to hear me. He was 
peering under his hand at the stars, that still, 
in spite of the intense sunlight, were abundantly 
visible in the sky. ** How long do you think we 
have been here ? " he asked at last. 

" Been where?" 

** On the moon." 

** Two earthly days, perhaps." 

" More nearly ten. Do you know, the sun 
is past its zenith, and sinking in the west. In 
four days* time or less it will be night." 

** But — we've only eaten once ! " 

** I know that. And — But there are the 
stars ! " 

** But why should time seem different because 
we are on a smaller planet ? " 

" I don't know. There it is ! " 

** How does one tell time ? " 

** Hunger — fatigue — all those things are 
different. Everything is different — every- 



214 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

thing. To me it seems that since first we 
came out of the sphere has been only a ques- 
tion of hours — long hours — at most." 

"Ten days," I said; "that leaves — " I 
looked up at the sun for a moment, and then 
saw that it was half-way from the zenith to the 
western edge of things. "Four days! . . . 
Cavor, we mustn't sit here and dream. How 
do you think we may begin ? " 

I stood up. '* We must get a fixed point 
we can recognise — we might hoist a fiag, or a 
handkerchief, or something — and quarter the 
ground, and work round that." 

He stood up beside me. 

"Yes," he said, "there is nothing for it but 
to hunt the sphere. Nothing. We may find 
it — certainly we may find it. And if not " 

" We must keep on looking." 

He looked this way and that, glanced up at 
the sky and down at the tunnel, and aston- 
ished me by a sudden gesture of impatience. 
" Oh ! but we have done foolishly ! To have 
come to this pass ! Think how it might have 
been, and the things we might have done ! '* 

"We may do something yet." 

" Never the thing we might have done. 
Here below our feet is a world. Think of 
what that world must be! Think of that 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 215 

machine we saw, and the lid and the shaft I 
They were just remote outlying things, and 
those creatures we have seen and fought with 
no more than ignorant peasants, dwellers in 
the outskirts, yokels and labourers half akin 
to brutes. Down below ! Caverns beneath 
caverns, tunnels, structures, ways. ... It 
must open out, and be greater and wider and 
more populous as one descends. Assuredly. 
Right down at last to the central sea that 
washes round the core of the moon. Think 
of its inky waters under the spare lights — if, 
indeed, their eyes need lights ! Think of the 
cascading tributaries pouring down their chan- 
nels to feed it ! Think of the tides upon its 
surface, and the rush and swirl of its ebb and 
flow! Perhaps they have ships that go upon 
it, perhaps down there are mighty cities and 
swarming ways, and wisdom and order passing 
the wit of man. And we may die here upon 
it, and never see the masters who mus^ be — 
ruling over these things ! We may freeze and 
die here, and the air will freeze and thaw upon 
us, and then — ! Then they will come upon us, 
come on our stiff and silent bodies, and find the 
sphere we cannot find, and they will under- 
stand at last too late all the thought and effort 
that ended here in vain ! " 



2i6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

His voice for all that speech sounded like 
the voice of some one heard in a telephone, 
weak and far away. 

*'But the darkness," I said. 

*' One might get over that." 

'^How.?" 

*' I don't know. How am I to know? One 
might carry a torch, one might have a lamp — 
The others — might understand." 

He stood for a moment with his hands held 
down and a rueful face, staring out over the 
waste that defied him. Then with a gesture 
of renunciation he turned towards me with 
proposals for the systematic hunting of the 
sphere. 

'* We can return," I said. 

He looked about him. " First of all we 
shall have to get to earth." 

** We could bring back lamps to carry and 
climbing irons, and a hundred necessary 
things." 

" Yes," he said. 

** We can take back an earnest of success 
in this gold." 

He looked at my golden crowbars, and said 
nothing for a space. He stood with his hands 
clasped behind his back, staring across the 
crater. At last he sighed and spoke. " It 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 217 

was / found the way here, but to find a way 
isn't always to be master of a way. If I take 
my secret back to earth, what will happen ? I 
do not see how I can keep my secret for a 
year, for even a part of a year. Sooner or 
later it must come out, even If other men 
rediscover it. And then. . . . Governments 
and powers will struggle to get hither, they 
will fight against one another, and against 
these moon people ; it will only spread warfare 
and multiply the occasions of war. In a little 
while, in a very little while, if I tell my secret, 
this planet to its deepest galleries will be 
strewn with human dead. Other things are 
doubtful, but that is certain. . . . It is not as 
though man had any use for the moon. What 
good would the moon be to men ? Even of 
their own planet what have they made but a 
battle-ground and theatre of Infinite folly ? 
Small as his world is, and short as his time, 
he has still in his little life down there far more 
than he can do. No ! Science has toiled too 
long forging weapons for fools to use. It is 
time she held her hand. Let him find It out 
for himself again — in a thousand years' time." 

" There are methods of secrecy," I said. 

He looked up at me and smiled. '* After 
all," he said, " why should one worry ? There 



2i8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

is little chance of our finding the sphere, and 
down below things are brewing. It's simply 
the human habit of hoping till we die that 
makes us think of return. Our troubles are 
only beginning. We have shown these moon 
folk violence, we have given them a taste of 
our quality, and our chances are about as good 
as a tiger's that has got loose and killed a man 
in Hyde Park. The news of us must be 
running down from gallery to gallery, down 
towards the central parts. ... No sane 
beings will ever let us take that sphere back 
to earth after so much as they have seen 
of us." 

" We aren't improving our chances," said I, 
** by sitting here." 

We stood up side by side. 

** After all," he said, "we must separate. 
We must stick up a handkerchief on these tall 
spikes here and fasten it firmly, and from this 
as a centre we must work over the crater. 
You must go westward, moving out in semi- 
circles to and fro towards the setting sun. You 
must move first with your shadow on your right 
until it is at right angles with the direction of 
your handkerchief, and then with your shadow 
on your left. And I will do the same to the 
east. We will look into every gully, examine 



IN THE SUNLIGHT 219 

every skerry of rocks ; we will do all we can to 
find my sphere. If we see Selenites we will 
hide from them as well as we can. For drink 
we must take snow, and if we feel the need of 
food, we must kill a mooncalf if we can, and eat 
such flesh as it has — raw — and so each will go 
his own way." 

" And if one of us comes upon the sphere ? " 

** He must come back to the white handker- 
chief, and stand by it and signal to the other." 

** And if neither ?" 

Cavor glanced up at the sun. *' We go on 
seeking until the night and cold overtake us." 

** Suppose the Selenites have found the 
sphere and hidden it ? " 

He shrugged his shoulders. 

** Or if presently they come hunting us ? " 

He made no answer. 

** You had better take a club," I said. 

He shook his head, and stared away from 
me across the waste. 

But for a moment he did not start. He 
looked round at me shyly, hesitated. '' Au 
revoz'r" he said. 

I felt an odd stab of emotion. A sense of 
how we had galled each other, and particularly 
how I must have galled him, came to me. 
** Confound it," thought I, *' we might have 



220 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

done better ! " I was on the point of asking 
him to shake hands — for that, somehow, was 
how I felt just then — when he put his feet 
together and leapt away from me towards the 
north. He seemed to drift through the air as 
a dead leaf would do, fell lightly, and leapt 
again. I stood for a moment watching him, 
then faced westward reluctantly, pulled myself 
together, and with something of the feeling of 
a man who leaps into icy water, selected a 
leaping point, and plunged forward to explore 
my solitary half of the moon world. I dropped 
rather clumsily among rocks, stood up and 
looked about me, clambered on to a rocky 
slab, and leapt again. . . . 

When presently I looked for Cavor he was 
hidden from my eyes, but the handkerchief 
showed out bravely on its headland, white in 
the blaze of the sun. 

I determined not to lose sight of that hand- 
kerchief whatever might betide. 



XIX 

MR. BEDFORD ALONE 

In a little while it seemed to me as though I 
had always been alone on the moon. I hunted 
for a time with a certain intentness, but the 
heat was still very great, and the thinness of 
the air felt like a hoop about one's chest. I 
came presently into a hollow basin bristling 
with tall, brown, dry fronds about its edge, and 
I sat down under these to rest and cool. I 
intended to rest for only a little while. I put 
down my clubs beside me, and sat resting my 
chin on my hands. I saw with a sort of colour- 
less interest that the rocks of the basin, where 
here and there the crackling dry lichens had 
shrunk away to show them, were all veined 
and splattered with gold, that here and there 
bosses of rounded and wrinkled gold projected 
from among the litter. What did that matter 
now ? A sort of languor had possession of my 
limbs and mind, I did not believe for a moment 
that we should ever find the sphere in that vast 

321 



222 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

desiccated wilderness. I seemed to lack a 
motive for effort until the Selenites should 
come. Then I supposed I should exert my- 
self, obeying that unreasonable imperative that 
urges a man before all things to preserve and 
defend his life, albeit he may preserve it only to 
die more painfully in a little while. 

Why had we come to the moon ? 

The thing presented itself to me as a per- 
plexing problem. What is this spirit in man 
that urges him for ever to depart from happi- 
ness and security, to toil, to place himself in 
danger, to risk even a reasonable certainty of 
death ? It dawned upon me up there in the 
moon as a thing I ought always to have known, 
that man is not made simply to go about being 
safe and comfortable and well fed and amused. 
Almost any man, if you put the thing to him, 
not in words, but in the shape of opportunities, 
will show that he knows as much. Against his 
interest, against his happiness, he is constantly 
being driven to do unreasonable things. Some 
force not himself impels him, and go he must. 
But why ? Why ? Sitting there in the midst 
of that useless moon gold, amidst the things 
of another world, I took count of all my life. 
Assuming I was to die a castaway upon the 
moon, I failed altogether to see what purpose 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 223 

I had served. I got no light on that point, but 
at any rate It was clearer to me than It had ever 
been in my life before that I was not serving 
my own purpose, that all my life I had in truth 
never served the purposes of my private life. 
Whose purposes, what purposes, was I serving 1 
... I ceased to speculate on why we had come 
to the moon, and took a wider sweep. Why 
had I come to the earth } Why had I a private 
life at all ? . . . I lost myself at last in bottom- 
less speculations. ... 

My thoughts became vague and cloudy, no 
longer leading in definite directions. I had 
not felt heavy or weary — I cannot imagine 
one doing so upon the moon — but I suppose 
I was greatly fatigued. At any rate I slept. 

Slumbering there rested me greatly, I think, 
and the sun was setting and the violence of the 
heat abating, through all the time I slumbered. 
When at last I was roused from my slumbers 
by a remote clamour, I felt active and capable 
again. I rubbed my eyes and stretched my 
arms. I rose to my feet — I was a little stiff — 
and at once prepared to resume my search. 
I shouldered my golden clubs, one on each 
shoulder, and went on out of the ravine of 
the gold-veined rocks. 

The sun was certainly lower, much lower 



224 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

than it had been ; the air was very much cooler. 
I perceived I must have slept some time. It 
seemed to me that a faint touch of misty blue- 
ness hung about the western cliff. I leapt to 
a little boss of rock and surveyed the crater. 
I could see no signs of mooncalves or Selenites, 
nor could I see Cavor, but I could see my 
handkerchief afar off, spread out on its thicket 
of thorns. I looked about me, and then leapt 
forward to the next convenient view-point. 

I beat my way round in a semicircle, and 
back again in a still remoter crescent. It was 
very fatiguing and hopeless. The air was 
really very much cooler, and it seemed to me 
that the shadow under the westward cliff was 
growing broad. Ever and again I stopped 
and reconnoitred, but there was no sign of 
Cavor, no sign of Selenites ; and it seemed 
to me the mooncalves must have been driven 
into the interior again — I could see none of 
them. I became more and more desirous of 
seeing Cavor. The winged outline of the sun 
had sunk now, until it was scarcely the distance 
of its diameter from the rim of the sky. I 
was oppressed by the idea that the Selenites 
would presently close their lids and valves, 
and shut us out under the inexorable onrush 
of the lunar night. It seemed to me high 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 225 

time that he abandoned his search, and that 
we took counsel together. I felt how urgent 
it was that we should decide soon upon our 
course. We had failed to find the sphere, 
we no longer had time to seek it, and once 
these valves were closed with us outside, we 
were lost men. The great night of space 
would descend upon us — that blackness of the 
void which is the only absolute death. All 
my being shrank from that approach. We 
must get into the moon again, though we were 
slain in doing it. I was haunted by a vision 
of our freezing to death, of our hammering 
with our last strength on the valve of the 
great pit. 

I took no thought any more of the sphere. 
I thought only of finding Cavor again. I was 
half inclined to go back into the moon without 
him, rather than seek him until it was too late. 
I was already half-way back towards our hand- 
kerchief, when suddenly — 

I saw the sphere! 

I did not find it so much as it found me. 
It was lying much further to the westward 
than I had gone, and the sloping rays of the 
sinking sun reflected from its glass had sud- 
denly proclaimed its presence in a dazzling 

beam. For an instant I thought this was 

p 



226 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

some new device of the Selenites against us, 
and then I understood. 

I threw up my arms, shouted a ghostly 
shout, and set off in vast leaps towards it. I 
missed one of my leaps and dropped into a 
deep ravine and twisted my ankle, and after 
that I stumbled at almost every leap. I was 
in a state of hysterical agitation, trembling 
violently, and quite breathless long before I 
got to it. Three times at least I had to stop 
with my hands resting on my side, and spite 
of the thin dryness of the air, the perspiration 
was wet upon my face. 

I thought of nothing but the sphere until 
I reached it, I forgot even my trouble of 
Cavor s whereabouts. My last leap flung me 
with my hands hard against its glass ; then I 
lay against it panting, and trying vainly to 
shout, " Cavor ! here is the sphere ! " When 
I had recovered a little I peered through the 
thick glass, and the things inside seemed 
tumbled. I stooped to peer closer. Then I 
attempted to get in. I had to hoist it over 
a little to get my head through the manhole. 
The screw stopper was inside, and I could see 
now that nothing had been touched, nothing 
had suffered. It lay there as we had left it 
when we had dropped out amidst the snow. 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 227 

For a time I was wholly occupied in making 
and remaking this inventory. I found I was 
trembling violently. It was good to see that 
familiar dark interior again ! I cannot tell you 
how good. Presently I crept inside and sat 
down among the things. I looked through 
the glass at the moon world and shivered. 
I placed my gold clubs upon the bale, and 
sought out and took a little food ; not so much 
because I wanted it, but because it was there. 
Then it occurred to me that it was time to go 
out and signal for Cavor. But I did not go 
out and signal for Cavor forthwith. Something 
held me to the sphere. 

After all, everything was coming right. 
There would be still time for us to get more 
of the magic stone that gives one mastery 
over men. Away there, close handy, was 
gold for the picking up ; and the sphere would 
travel as well half full of gold as though it were 
empty. We could go back now, masters of 
ourselves and our world, and then — 

I roused myself at last, and with an effort 
got myself out of the sphere. I shivered as 
I emerged, for the evening air was growing 
very cold. I stood in the hollow staring about 
me. 1 scrutinised the bushes round me very 
carefully before I leapt to the rocky shelf hard 



'228 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

by, and took once more what had been my 
first leap in the moon. But now I made it 
with no effort whatever. 

The growth and decay of the vegetation 
had gone on apace, and the whole aspect of 
the rocks had changed, but still it was possible 
to make out the slope on which the seeds had 
germinated, and the rocky mass from which 
we had taken our first view of the crater. But 
the spiky shrub on the slope stood brown and 
sere now, and thirty feet high, and cast long 
shadows that stretched out of sight, and the 
little seeds that clustered in its upper branches 
were brown and ripe. Its work was done, 
and it was brittle and ready to fall and crumple 
under the freezing air, so soon as the night- 
fall came. And the huge cacti, that had swollen 
as we watched them, had long since burst and 
scattered their spores to the four quarters of 
the moon. Amazing little corner in the uni- 
verse — the landing-place of men ! 

Some day, thought I, I will have an inscrip- 
tion standing there right in the midst of the 
hollow. It came to me, if only this teeming 
world within knew of the full import of the 
moment, how furious its tumult would become ! 

But as yet it could scarcely be dreaming 
of the significance of our coming. For if it 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 229 

did, the crater would surely be an uproar 
of pursuit, Instead of as still as death ! I 
looked about for some place from which I 
might signal to Cavor, and saw that same 
patch of rock to which he had leapt from my 
present standpoint, still bare and barren in the 
sun. For a moment I hesitated at going so 
far from the sphere. Then with a pang of 
shame at that hesitation, I leapt. . . . 

From this vantage point I surveyed the 
crater again. Far away at the top of the 
enormous shadow I cast was the little white 
handkerchief fluttering on the bushes. It was 
very little and very far, and Cavor was not 
in sight.' It seemed to me that by this time 
he ought to be looking for me. That was the 
agreement. But he was nowhere to be seen. 

I stood waiting and watching, hands shad- 
ing my eyes, expecting every moment to dis- 
tinguish him. Very probably I stood there 
for quite a long time. I tried to shout, 
and was reminded of the thinness of the air. 
I made an undecided step back towards the 
sphere. But a lurking dread of the Selenites 
made me hesitate to signal my whereabouts 
by hoisting one of our sleeping-blankets on 
to the adjacent scrub. I searched the crater 
again. 



230 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

It had an effect of emptiness that chilled 
me. And it was still ! Any sound from the 
Selenites in the world beneath, even had 
died away. It was as still as death. Save 
for the faint stir of the shrub about me in 
the little breeze that was rising, there was 
no sound nor shadow of a sound. And the 
breeze blew chill. 

Confound Cavor ! 

I took a deep breath. I put my hands to 
the sides of my mouth. "Cavor!" I bawled, 
and the sound was like some manikin shouting 
far away. 

I looked at the handkerchief, I looked be- 
hind me at the broadening shadow of the west- 
ward cliff, I looked under my hand at the sun. 
It seemed to me that almost visibly it was 
creeping down the sky. 

I felt I must act instantly if I was to save 
Cavor. I whipped off my vest and flung it 
as a mark on the sere bayonets of the shrubs 
behind me, and then set off in a straight line 
towards the handkerchief. Perhaps it was a 
couple of miles away^ — a matter of a few hun- 
dred leaps and strides. I have already told 
how one seemed to hang through those lunar 
leaps. In each suspense I sought Cavor, and 
marvelled why he should be hidden. In each 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 231 

leap I could feel the sun setting behind me. 
Each time I touched the ground I was tempted 
to go back. 

A last leap and I was in the depression 
below our handkerchief, a stride, and I stood on 
our former vantage point within arm's reach 
of it. I stood up straight and scanned the 
world about me, between its lengthening bars 
of shadow. Far away, down a long declivity, 
was the opening of the tunnel up which we 
had fled, and my shadow reached towards it, 
stretched towards it, and touched it, like a 
finger of the night. 

Not a sign of Cavor, not a sound in all the 
stillness, only that the stir and waving of the 
scrub and of the shadows increased. And 
suddenly and violently I shivered. ** Gav — " 
I began, and realised once more the useless- 
ness of the human voice in that thin air. 

Silence. The silence of death. 

Then it was my eye caught something — 
a little thing, lying perhaps fifty yards away 
down the slope, amidst a litter of bent and 
broken branches. What was it } I knew, 
and yet for some reason I would not know. 

I went nearer to it. It was the little cricket- 
cap Cavor had worn. I did not touch it, I 
stood looking at it. 



232 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I saw then that the scattered branches about 
it had been forcibly smashed and trampled. 
I hesitated, stepped forward and picked it up. 

I stood with Cavor s cap in my hand, staring 
at the trampled reeds and thorns about me. 
On some of them were little smears of some- 
thing dark, something that I dared not touch. 
A dozen yards away, perhaps, the rising breeze 
dragged something into view, something small 
and vividly white. 

It was a little piece of paper crumpled tightly, 
as though it had been clutched tightly. I 
picked it up, and on it were smears of red. 
My eye caught faint pencil marks. I smoothed 
it out, and saw uneven and broken writing end- 
ing at last in a crooked streak upon the paper. 

I set myself to decipher this. 

** I have been injured about the knee, I 
think my kneecap is hurt, and I cannot run 
or crawl," it began — pretty distinctly written. 

Then less legibly : ** They have been chas- 
ing me for some time, and it is only a question 
of" — the word *' time " seemed to have been 
written here and erased in favour of something 
illegible — *' before they get me. They are 
beating all about me." 

Then the writing became convulsive. " I 
can hear them," I guessed the tracing meant, 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 233 

and then it was quite unreadable for a space. 
Then came a little string of words that were 
quite distinct : "a different sort of Selenite 
altogether, who appears to be directing the — '* 
The writing became a mere hasty confusion 
again. 

" They have larger brain cases — much larger, 
and slenderer bodies, and very short legs. They 
make gentle noises, and move with organised 
deliberation ... 

" And though I am wounded and helpless 
here, their appearance still gives me hope — " 
That was like Cavor. ** They have not shot 
at me or attempted . . . injury. I intend " 

Then came the sudden streak of the pencil 
across the paper, and on the back and edges 
—blood ! 

And as I stood there stupid and perplexed, 
with this dumbfounding relic in my hand, some- 
thing very soft and light and chill touched 
my hand for a moment and ceased to be, and 
then a thing, a little white speck, drifted athwart 
a shadow. It was a tiny snowflake, the first 
snowflake, the herald of the night. 

I looked up with a start, and the sky had 
darkened now almost to blackness, and was thick 
with a gathering multitude of coldly watchful 
stars. I looked eastward, and the light of that 



234 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

shrivelled world was touched with a sombre 
bronze ; westward, and the sun, robbed now by 
a thickening white mist of half its heat and 
splendour, was touching the crater rim, was 
sinking out of sight, ' and all the shrubs and 
jagged and tumbled rocks stood out against 
it in a bristling disorder of black shapes. Into 
the great lake of darkness westward, a vast 
wreath of mist was sinking. A cold wind set 
all the crater shivering. Suddenly, for a 
moment, I was in a puff of falling snow, and 
all the world about me grey and dim. 

And then it was I heard, not loud and pene- 
trating as at first, but faint and dim like a 
dying voice, that tolling, that same tolling 
that had welcomed the coming of the day : 
Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . . 

It echoed about the crater, it seemed to 
throb with the throbbing of the greater stars, 
the blood-red crescent of the sun's disk sank 
as it tolled out : Boom ! . . . Boom ! . . . 
Boom! 

What had happened to Cavor ? All through 
that tolling I stood there stupidly, and at last 
the tolling ceased. 

And suddenly the open mouth of the tunnel 
down below there, shut like an eye and vanished 
out of sight. 



MR, BEDFORD ALONE 235 

Then indeed was I alone. 

Over me, around me, closing in on me, em- 
bracing me ever nearer, was the Eternal ; that 
which was before the beginning, and that which 
triumphs over the end ; that enormous void in 
which all light and life and being is but the 
thin and vanishing splendour of a falling star, 
the cold, the stillness, the silence — the infinite 
and final Night of space. 

The sense of solitude and desolation became 
the sense of an overwhelming presence that 
stooped towards me, that almost touched me. 

**No," I cried. ''No/ Not yet! not yet! 
Wait ! Wait ! Oh wait ! " My voice went up 
to a shriek. I flung the crumpled paper from 
me, scrambled back to the crest to take my 
bearings, and then, with all the will that was 
in me, leapt out towards the mark I had left, 
dim and distant now in the very margin of the 
shadow. 

Leap, leap, leap, and each leap was seven ages. 

Before me the pale serpent-girdled section 
of the sun sank and sank, and the advancing 
shadow swept to seize the sphere before I could 
reach it. I was two miles away, a hundred 
leaps or more, and the air about me was thin- 
ning out as it thins under an air-pump, and the 
cold was gripping at my joints. But had I 



236 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

died, I should have died leaping. Once, and 
then again my foot slipped on the gathering 
mow as I leapt and shortened my leap ; once I 
fell short into bushes that crashed and smashed 
into dusty chips and nothingness, and once I 
stumbled as I dropped, and rolled head over 
heels into a gully, and rose bruised and bleeding 
and confused as to my direction. 

But such incidents were as nothing to the 
intervals, those awful pauses when one drifted 
through the air towards that pouring tide of 
night. My breathing made a piping noise, 
and it was as though knives were whirling in 
my lungs. My heart seemed to beat against 
the top of my brain. ** Shall I reach it.** 

Heaven ! shall I reach it ? " 
My whole being became anguish. 

*' Lie down ! " screamed my pain and despair ; 
** lie down ! " 

The nearer I struggled, the more awfully 
remote It seemed. I was numb, I stumbled, 

1 bruised and cut myself and did not bleed. 

It was in sight. 

I fell on all fours, and my lungs whooped. 

I crawled. The frost gathered on my lips, 
icicles hung from my moustache, I was white 
with the freezing atmosphere. 

I was a dozen yards from it. My eyes had 





The nearer I struggled, the more awfully remote it seemed " 



MR. BEDFORD ALONE 237 

become dim. '* Lie down ! " screamed despair ; 
'♦lie down!" 

I touched it, and halted. " Too late ! " 
screamed despair ; ''lie down ! " 

I fought stiffly with it. I was on the man- 
hole lip, a stupefied, half-dead being. The 
snow was all about me. I pulled myself in. 
There lurked within a little warmer air. 

The snowflakes — the airflakes — danced in 
about me, as I tried with chilling hands to 
thrust the valve in and spun it tight and hard. 
I sobbed. " I will," I chattered in my teeth. 
And then, with fingers that quivered and felt 
brittle, I turned to the shutter studs. 

As I fumbled with the switches — for I had 
never controlled them before — I could see 
dimly through the steaming glass the blazing 
red streamers of the sinking sun, dancing and 
flickering through the snowstorm, and the 
black forms of the scrub thickening and bend- 
ing and breaking beneath the accumulating 
snow. Thicker whirled the snow and thicker, 
black against the light. What if even now the 
switches overcame me ? 

Then something clicked under my hands, and 
in an instant that last vision of the moon world 
was hidden from my eyes. I was in the silence 
and darkness of the inter-planetary sphere. 



XX 

MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 

It was almost as though I had been killed. 
Indeed, I could imagine a man suddenly and 
violently killed would feel very much as I did. 
One moment, a passion of agonising existence 
and fear; the next, darkness and stillness, 
neither light nor life nor sun, moon nor stars, 
the blank infinite. Although the thing was 
done by my own act, although I had already 
tasted this very effect in Cavor's company, I 
felt astonished, dumbfounded, and overwhelmed. 
I seemed to be borne upward into an enor- 
mous darkness. My fingers floated off the 
studs, I hung as if I were annihilated, and at 
last very softly and gently I came against the 
bale and the golden chain, and the crowbars 
that had drifted to the middle of the sphere. 

I do not know how long that drifting took. 
In the sphere of course, even more than on the 
moon, one's earthly time sense was ineffectual. 

At the touch of the bale it was as if I had 

238 



MR. BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 239 

awakened from a dreamless sleep. I imme- 
diately perceived that if I wanted to keep 
awake and alive I must get a light or open a 
window, so as to get a grip of something with 
my eyes. And besides I was cold. I kicked 
off from the bale, therefore, clawed on to the 
thin cords within the glass, crawled along until 
I got to the manhole rim, and so got my bear- 
ings for the light and blind studs, took a shove 
off, and flying once round the bale, and getting 
a scare from something big and flimsy that 
was drifting loose, I got my hand on the cord 
quite close to the studs, and reached them. I 
lit the little lamp first of all to see what it was 
I had collided with, and discovered that old 
copy of Lloyd's News had slipped its moor- 
ings, and was adrift in the void. That brought 
me out of the infinite to my own proper dimen- 
sions again. It made me laugh and pant for a 
time, and suggested the idea of a little oxygen 
from one of the cylinders. After that I lit the 
heater until I felt warm, and then I took food. 
Then I set to work in a very gingerly fashion 
on the Cavorite blinds, to see if I could guess 
by any means how the sphere was travelling. 

The first blind I opened I shut at once, and 
hung for a time flattened and blinded by the 
sunlight that had hit me. After thinking a 



240 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

little I started upon the windows at right angles 
to this one, and got the huge crescent moon 
and the little crescent earth behind it, the 
second time. I was amazed to find how far I 
was from the moon. I had reckoned that not 
only should I have little or none of the ** kick- 
off'' that the earth's atmosphere had given us 
at our start, but that the tangential *' fly off" of 
the moon's spin would be at least twenty-eight 
times less than the earth's. I had expected to 
discover myself hanging over our crater, and 
on the edge of the night, but all that was now 
only a part of the outline of the white crescent 
that filled the sky. And Cavor -? 

He was already infinitesimal. 

I tried to imagine what could have happened 
to him. But at that time I could think of 
nothing but death. I seemed to see him, bent 
and smashed at the foot of some interminably 
high cascade of blue. And all about him the 
stupid insects stared. . . . 

Under the inspiring touch of the drifting 
newspaper I became practical again for a while. 
It was quite clear to me that what I had to do 
was to get back to earth, but as far as I could 
see I was drifting away from it. Whatever 
had happened to Cavor, even if he was still 
alive, which seemed to me incredible after that 



MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 241 

blood-stained scrap, I was powerless to help him. 
There he was, living or dead behind the mantle 
of that rayless night, and there he must remain 
at least until I could summon our fellow-men to 
his assistance. Should I do that ? Something 
of the sort I had in my mind ; to come back to 
earth if it were possible, and then as maturer 
consideration might determine, either to show 
and explain the sphere to a few discreet per- 
sons, and act with them, or else to keep my 
secret, sell my gold, obtain weapons, provisions, 
and an assistant, and return with these advan- 
tages to deal on equal terms with the flimsy 
people of the moon, to rescue Cavor, if that 
were still possible, and at any rate to procure 
a sufficient supply of gold to place my subse- 
quent proceedings on a firmer basis. But that 
was hoping far, I had first to get back. 

I set myself to decide just exactly how the 
return to earth could be contrived. As I strug- 
gled with that problem I ceased to worry about 
what I should do when I got there. At last 
my only care was to get back. 

I puzzled out at last that my best chance 
would be to drop back towards the moon as 
near as I dared in order to gather velocity, 
then to shut my windows and fly behind it, 
and when I was past to open my earthward 

Q 



242 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

windows, and so get off at a good pace home- 
ward. But whether I should ever reach the 
earth by that device, or whether I might not 
simply find myself spinning about it in some 
hyperbolic or parabolic curve or other, I could 
not tell. Later I had a happy inspiration, and 
by opening certain windows to the moon, 
which had appeared in the sky in front of the 
earth, I turned my course aside so as to head 
off the earth, which it had become evident to 
me I must pass behind without some such 
expedient. I did a very great deal of compli- 
cated thinking over these problems— for I am 
no mathematician — and in the end I am cer- 
tain it was much more my good luck than my 
reasoning that enabled me to hit the earth. 
Had I known then, as I know now, the mathe- 
matical chances there were against me, I doubt 
if I should have troubled even to touch the 
studs to make any attempt. And having 
puzzled out what I considered to be the thing 
to do, I opened all my moonward windows, 
and squatted down — the effort lifted me for a 
time some feet or so into the air, and I hung 
there in the oddest way — and waited for the 
crescent to get bigger and bigger until I felt I 
was near enough for safety. Then I would 
shut the windows, fiy past the moon with the 



MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 243 

velocity I had get from it — if I did not smash 
upon it — and so go on towards the earth. 

And that is what I did. 

At last I felt my moonward start was suffi- 
cient. I shut out the sight of the moon from 
my eyes, and in a state of mind that was, I 
now recall, incredibly free from anxiety or any 
distressful quality, I sat down to begin a vigil 
in that little speck of matter in infinite space 
that would last until I should strike the earth. 
The heater had made the sphere tolerably 
warm, the air had been refreshed by the 
oxygen, and except for that faint congestion 
of the head that was always with me while I 
was away from earth, I felt entire physical 
comfort. I had extinguished the light again, 
lest it should fail me in the end ; I was in 
darkness, save for the earthshine and the 
glitter of the stars below me. Everything was 
so absolutely silent and still that I might in- 
deed have been the only being in the universe, 
and yet, strangely enough, I had no more feel- 
ing of loneliness or fear than if I had been 
lying in bed on earth. Now, this seems all the 
stranger to me, since during my last hours in 
that crater of the moon, the sense of my utter 
loneliness had been an agony. . . . 

Incredible as it will seem, this interval of 



244 T^HE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

time that I spent in space h-^s no sort of pro- 
portion to any other interval of time in my life. 
Sometimes it seemed as though I sat through 
immeasurable eternities like some god upon a 
lotus leaf, and again as though there was a 
momentary pause as I leapt from moon to 
earth. In truth, it was altogether some weeks 
of earthly time. But I had done with care and 
anxiety, hunger or fear, for that space. I floated, 
thinking with a strange breadth and freedom of 
all that we had undergone, and of all my life 
and motives, and the secret issues of my being. 
I seemed to myself to have grown greater 
and greater, to have lost all sense of move- 
ment ; to be floating amidst the stars, and 
always the sense of earth's littleness and the 
infinite littleness of my life upon it, was im- 
plicit in my thoughts. 

I can't profess to explain the things that 
happened in my mind. No doubt they could 
all be traced directly or indirectly to the curious 
physical conditions under which I was living. 
I set them down here just for what they are 
worth, and without any comment. The most 
prominent quality of it was a pervading doubt 
of my own identity. I became, if I may so 
express it, dissociate from Bedford ; I looked 
down on Bedford as a trivial, incidental thing 



MR, BEDFORD .'N INFINITE SPACE 245 

with which I chanced to be connected. I saw 
Bedford in many relations — as an ass or as a 
poor beast, where I had hitherto been inclined 
to regard him with a quiet pride as a very 
spirited or rather forcible person. I saw him 
not only as an ass, but as the son of many 
generations of asses. I reviewed his school- 
days and his early manhood, and his first 
encounter with love, very much as one might 
review the proceedings of an ant in the sand. 
. . . Something of that period of lucidity I 
regret still hangs about me, and I doubt if I 
shall ever recover the full-bodied self-satisfac- 
tion of my early days. But at the time the 
thing was not in the least painful, because I 
had that extraordinary persuasion that, as a 
matter of fact, I was no more Bedford than I 
was any one else, but only a mind floating in 
the still serenity of space. Why should I be 
disturbed about this Bedford's shortcomings ? 
I was not responsible for him or them. 

For a time I struggled against this really 
very grotesque delusion. I tried to summon 
the memory of vivid moments, of tender or 
intense emotions to my assistance ; I felt that 
if I could recall one genuine twinge of feeling 
the growing severance would be stopped. But 
I could not do it. I saw Bedford rushing down 



246 THE FIRST MEN W THE MOON 

Chancery Lane, hat on thf: back of his head, 
coat tails flying out, en route for his public 
examination. I saw him dodging and bump- 
ing against, and even saluting, other similar 
little creatures in that swarming gutter] of 
people. Me? I saw Bedford that same 
evening in the sitting-room of a certain lady, 
and his hat was on the table beside him, and 
it wanted brushing badly, and he was in tears. 
Me? I saw him with that lady in various 
attitudes and emotions — I never felt so de- 
tached before. ... I saw him hurrying off to 
Lympne to write a play, and accosting Cavor, 
and in his shirt sleeves working at the sphere, 
and walking out to Canterbury because he was 
afraid to come I Me ? I did not believe it. 

I still reasoned that all this was hallucination 
due to my solitude, and the fact that I had lost 
all weight and sense of resistance. I endea- 
voured to recover that sense by banging myself 
about the sphere, by pinching my hands and 
clasping them together. Among other things 
I lit the light, captured that torn copy of Lloyd' Sy 
and read those convincingly realistic advertise- 
ments again about the Cutaway bicycle, and the 
gentleman of private means, and the lady in 
distress who was selling those " forks and 
spoonsa" There was no doubt they existed 



MR, BEDFORD IN INFINITE SPACE 247 

surely enough, and, said I, '* This is your 
world, and you are Bedford, and you are 
going back to live among things like that for 
all the rest of your life." But the doubts within 
me could still argue : "It is not you that is 
reading, it is Bedford, but you are not Bed- 
ford, you know. That's just where the mistake 
comes in." 

'* Confound it ! " I cried ; " and if I am not 
Bedford, what am I ? " 

But in that direction no light was forthcom- 
ing, though the strangest fancies came drifting 
into my brain, queer remote suspicions, like 
shadows seen from far away. . . . Do you 
know, I had a sort of idea that really I was 
something quite outside not only the world, 
but all worlds, and out of space and time, and 
that this poor Bedford was just a peephole 
through which I looked at life .«* . . . 

Bedford ! However I disavowed him, there 
I was most certainly bound up with him, and I 
knew that wherever or whatever I might be, I 
must needs feel the stress of his desires, and 
sympathise with all his joys and sorrows until 
his life should end. And with the dying of 
Bedford — what then ? . . . 

Enough of this remarkable phase of my 
experiences ! I tell it here simply to show 



248 . THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

how one's isolation and departure from this 
planet touched not only the functions and 
feeling of every organ of the body, but in- 
deed also the very fabric of the mind, with 
strange and unanticipated disturbances. All 
through the major portion of that vast space 
journey I hung thinking of such immaterial 
things as these, hung dissociated and apathetic, 
a cloudy megalo-maniac, as it were, amidst the 
stars and planets in the void of space ; and not 
only the world to which I was returning, but 
the blue-lit caverns of the Selenites, their helmet 
faces, their gigantic and wonderful machines, 
and the fate of Cavor, dragged helpless into 
that world, seemed infinitely minute and alto- 
gether trivial things to me. 

Until at last I began to feel the pull of the 
earth upon my being, drawing me back again 
to the life that is real for men. And then, in- 
deed, it grew clearer and clearer to me that 
I was quite certainly Bedford after all, and 
returning after amazing adventures to this 
world of ours, and with a life that I was very 
likely to lose in this return. I set myself to 
puzzle out the conditions under which I must 
fall to earth. 



XXI 

MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 

My line of flight was about parallel with the 
surface as I came into the upper air. The 
temperature of the sphere began to rise forth- 
with. I knew it behoved me to drop at once. 
Far below me, in a darkling twilight, stretched 
a great expanse of sea. I opened every win- 
dow I could, and fell — out of sunshine into 
evening, and out of evening into night. Vaster 
grew the earth and vaster, swallowing up the 
stars, and the silvery translucent starlit veil of 
cloud it wore spread out to catch me. At last 
the world seemed no longer a sphere but flat, 
and then concave. It was no longer a planet in 
the sky, but the world of Man. I shut all but an 
inch or so of earthward window, and dropped 
with a slackening velocity. The broadening 
water, now so near that I could see the dark 
glitter of the waves, rushed up to meet me. 
The sphere became very hot. I snapped the 
last strip of window, and sat scowling and biting 

my knuckles, waiting for the impact. . . . 

249 



250 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

The sphere hit the water with a huge 
splash : it must have sent it fathoms high. 
At the splash I flung the Cavorite shutters 
open. Down I went, but slower and slower, 
and then I felt the sphere pressing against 
my feet, and so drove up again as a bubble 
drives. And at the last I was floating and 
rocking upon the surface of the sea, and my 
journey in space was at an end. 

The night was dark and overcast. Two 
yellow pin-points far away showed the passing 
of a ship, and nearer was a red glare that 
came and went. Had not the electricity of 
my glow-lamp exhausted itself, I could have 
got picked up that night. In spite of the in- 
ordinate fatigue I was beginning to feel, I was 
excited now, and for a time hopeful, in a 
feverish, impatient way, that so my travelling 
might end. 

But at last I ceased to move about, and sat, 
wrists on knees, staring af a distant red light. 
It swayed up and down, rocking, rocking. My 
excitement passed. I realised I had yet to 
spend another night at least in the sphere. I 
perceived myself infinitely heavy and fatigued. 
And so I fell asleep. 

A change in my rhythmic motion awakened 
me. I peered through the refracting glass, 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 251 

and saw that I had come aground upon a huge 
shallow of sand. Far away I seemed to see 
houses and trees, and seaward a curved, vague 
distortion of a ship hung between sea and sky. 

I stood up and staggered. My one desire 
was to emerge. The manhole was upward, and 
I wrestled with the screw. Slowly I opened 
the manhole. At last the air was singing in 
again as once it had sung out. But this time 
I did not wait until the pressure was adjusted. 
In another moment I had the weight of the 
window on my hands, and I was open, wide 
open, to the old familiar sky of earth. 

The air hit me on the chest so that I gasped. 
I dropped the glass screw. I cried out, put 
my hands to my chest, and sat down. For 
a time I was in pain. Then I took deep 
breaths. At last I could rise and move about 
again. 

I tried to thrust my head through the man- 
hole, and the sphere rolled over. It was as 
though something had lugged my head down 
directly it emerged. I ducked back sharply, 
or I should have been pinned face under water. 
After some wriggling and shoving I managed 
to crawl out upon sand, over which the retreat- 
ing waves still came and went. 

I did not attempt to stand up. It seemed 



252 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

to me that my body must be suddenly changed 
to lead. Mother Earth had her grip on me 
now — no Cavorite intervening. I sat down 
heedless of the water that came over my feet. 

It was dawn, a grey dawn, rather overcast, 
but showing here and there a long patch of 
greenish grey. Some way out a ship was 
lying at anchor, a pale silhouette of a ship with 
one yellow light. The water came rippling in 
in long shallow waves. Away to the right 
curved the land, a shingle bank with little 
hovels, and at last a lighthouse, a sailing mark 
and a point. Inland stretched a space of level 
sand, broken here and there by pools of water, 
and ending a mile away perhaps in a low shore 
of scrub. To the north-east some isolated 
watering-place was visible, a row of gaunt 
lodging-houses, the tallest things that I could 
see on earth, dull dabs against the brightening 
sky. What strange men can have reared these 
vertical piles in such an amplitude of space I 
do not know. There they are, like pieces of 
Brighton lost in the waste. 

For a long time I sat there, yawning and 
rubbing my face. At last I struggled to rise. 
It made me feel that I was lifting a weight. 
I stood up. 

I stared at the distant houses. For the first 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 253 

time since our starvation in the crater I thought 
of earthly food. " Bacon," I whispered, *' eggs. 
Good toast and good coffee. . . . And how 
the devil am I going to get all this stuff to 
Lympne ? " I wondered where I was. It was 
an east shore anyhow, and I had seen Europe 
before I dropped. 

I heard footsteps scrunching in the sand, 
and a little round-faced, friendly-looking man 
in flannels, with a bathing towel wrapped about 
his shoulders, and his bathing dress over his 
arm, appeared up the beach. I knew instantly 
that I must be in England. He was staring 
almost intently at the sphere and me. He ad- 
vanced staring. I daresay I looked a ferocious 
savage enough — dirty, unkempt, to an inde- 
scribable degree ; but it did not occur to me at 
the time. He stopped at a distance of twenty 
yards. " Hul-lo, my man ! " he said doubtfully. 

** Hullo yourself! " said I. 

He advanced, reassured by that. " What on 
earth is that thing ? " he asked. 

'* Can you tell me where I am ? " I asked. 

"That's Littlestone," he said, pointing to 
the houses ; '* and that's Dungeness ! Have 
you just landed ? What^s that thing you've 
got ? Some sort of machine ? " 

" Yes." 



254 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" Have you floated ashore ? Have you 
been wrecked or something? What is it?" 

I meditated swiftly. I made an estimate of 
the little man's appearance as he drew nearer. 
" By Jove ! " he said, *' youVe had a time of 
it ! I thought you — Well — Where were 
you cast away? Is that thing a sort of float- 
ing thing for saving life ? " 

I decided to take that line for the present. 
I made a few vague affirmatives. ** I want 
help," I said hoarsely. " I want to get some 
stuff up the beach — stuff I can't very well leave 
about." I became aware of three other plea- 
sant-looking young men with towels, blazers, 
and straw hats, coming down the sands towards 
me. Evidently the early bathing section of 
this Littlestone! 

"Help!" said the young man; ** rather!" 
He became vaguely active. "What particu- 
larly do you want done ? " He turned round 
and gesticulated. The three young men ac- 
celerated their pace. In a minute they were 
about me, plying me with questions I was 
indisposed to answer. " I'll tell all that later," 
I said. " I'm dead beat. I'm a rag." 

'* Come up to the hotel," said the foremost 
little man. ** We'll look after that thing 
there." 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 255 

I hesitated. '' I can't," I said. *' In that 
sphere there's two big bars of gold." 

They looked incredulously at one another, 
then at me with a new inquiry. I went to the 
sphere, stooped, crept in, and presently they 
had the Selenites' crowbars and the broken 
chain before them. If I had not been so 
horribly fagged I could have laughed at 
them. It was like kittens round a beetle. 
They didn't know what to do with the stuff. 
The fat little man stooped and lifted the end of 
one of the bars, and then dropped it with a 
grunt. Then they all did. 

** It's lead, or gold ! " said one. 

"Oh, \x!sgold!'' said another. 

"Gold, right enough," said the third. 

Then they all stared at me, and then they 
all stared at the ship lying at anchor. 

" I say ! " cried the little man. ** But where 
did you get that ? " 

I was too tired to keep up a lie. " I got it 
in the moon." 

I saw them stare at one another. 

'* Look here ! " said I, *' I'm not going to 
argue now. Help me carry these lumps of gold 
up to the hotel — I guess, with rests, two of you 
can manage one, and I'll trail this chain thing — 
and I'll tell you more when I've had some food.'* 



256 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

" And how about that thing ? " 

** It won't hurt there," I said. " Anyhow — 
confound it ! — it must stop there now. If the 
tide comes up, it will float all right." 

And in a state of enormous wonderment, 
these young men most obediently hoisted my 
treasures on their shoulders, and with limbs 
that felt like lead I headed a sort of procession 
towards that distant fragment of ** sea-front.'* 
Half-way there we were reinforced by two awe- 
stricken little girls with spades, and later a lean 
little boy, with a penetrating sniff, appeared. 
He was, I remember, wheeling a bicycle, and 
he accompanied us at a distance of about a 
hundred yards on our right fiank, and then, I 
suppose, gave us up as uninteresting, mounted 
his bicycle, and rode off over the level sands 
in the direction of the sphere. 

I glanced back after him. 

*^ He won't touch it," said the stout young 
man reassuringly, and I was only too willing 
to be reassured. 

At first something of the grey of the morn- 
ing was in my mind, but presently the sun 
disengaged itself from the level clouds of the 
horizon and lit the world, and turned the leaden 
sea to glittering waters. My spirits rose. A 
sense of the vast importance of the things I 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 257 

had done and had yet to do came with the 
sunlight into my mind. I laughed aloud as 
the foremost man staggered under my gold. 
When indeed I took my place in the world, 
how amazed the world would be ! 

If it had not been for my inordinate fatigue, 
the landlord of the Littlestone hotel would have 
been amusing, as he hesitated between my 
gold and my respectable company on the one 
hand, and my filthy appearance on the other. 
But at last I found myself in a terrestrial bath- 
room once more with warm water to wash 
myself with, and a change of raiment, prepos- 
terously small indeed, but anyhow clean, that 
the genial little man had lent me. He lent 
me a razor too, but I could not screw up 
my resolution to attack even the outposts of 
the bristling beard that covered my face. 

I sat down to an English breakfast and ate 
with a sort of languid appetite — an appetite 
many weeks old, and very decrepit — and stirred 
myself to answer the questions of the four 
young men. And I told them the truth. 

*'Well," said I, *' as you press me — I got it 
in the moon." 

" The moon?" 

" Yes, the moon in the sky," 

" But how do you mean ? " 

R 



258 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** What I say, confound it ! " 

** That you have just come from the 
moon?" > 

** Exactly ! through space — in that ball." 
And I took a delicious mouthful of egg, I 
made a private note that when I went back 
to the moon I would take a box of eggs. 

I could see clearly that they did not believe 
one word of what I told them, but evidently 
they considered me the most respectable liar 
they had ever- met. They glanced at one 
another, and then concentrated the fire of their 
eyes on me. I fancy they expected a clue to 
me in the way I helped myself to salt. They 
seemed to find something significant in my 
peppering my egg. These strangely shaped 
masses of gold they had staggered under held 
their minds. There the lumps lay in front of 
me, each worth thousands of pounds, and as 
impossible for any one to steal as a house or a 
piece of land. As I looked at their curious 
faces over my coffee-cup, I realised something 
of the enormous wilderness of explanations 
into which I should have to wander to render 
myself comprehensible again. 

"You don't really mean — " began the 
youngest young man, in the tone of one who 
speaks to an obstinate child. 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE ^9 

"Just pass me that toast- rack," I said, and 
shut him up completely. 

" But look here, I say," began one of the 
others. ** We're not going to believe that, 
you know." 

** Ah, well," said I, and shrugged my 
shoulders. 

"He doesn't want to tell us," said the 
youngest young man in a stage aside ; and 
then, with an appearance of great sang-froid^ 
"You don't mind if I take a cigarette?" 

I waved him a cordial assent, and proceeded 
with my breakfast. Two of the others went 
and looked out of the farther window and 
talked inaudibly. I was struck by a thought. 
"The tide," I said, "is running out?" 

There was a pause, a doubt who should 
answer me. " It's near the ebb," said the 
fat little man. 

"Well, anyhow," I said, "it won't float far." 

I decapitated my third ^gg^ and began a 
little speech. " Look here," I said. " Please 
don't imagine Fm surly or telling you uncivil 
lies, or anything of that sort. I'm forced 
almost, to be a little short and mysterious. 
I can quite understand this is as queer as 
it can be, and that your imaginations must 
be going it. I can assure you, you're in at 



26o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

a memorable time. But I can't make it clear 
to you now — it's impossible. I give you my 
word of honour I've come from the moon, and 
that's all I can tell you. . . . All the same I'm 
tremendously obliged to you, you know, tre- 
mendously. I hope that my manner hasn't in 
any way given you offence." 

" Oh, not in the least ! " said the youngest 
young man affably. "We can quite under- 
stand," and staring hard at me all the time, 
he heeled his chair back until it very nearly 
upset, and recovered with some exertion. 
** Not a bit of it," said the fat young man. 
*' Don't you imagine thatV and they all got 
up and dispersed, and walked about and lit 
cigarettes, and generally tried to show they 
were perfectly amiable and disengaged, and 
entirely free from the slightest curiosity about 
me and the sphere. ** I'm going to keep 
an eye on that ship out there all the same," I 
heard one of them remarking in an undertone. 
If only they could have forced themselves to 
it, they would, I believe, even have gone out 
and left me. I went on with my third ^g<g, 

" The weather," the fat little man remarked 
presently, **has been immense, has it not .-^ 
I don't know when we have had such a 



summer. . . ." 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 261 

Phoo — whizz ! Like a tremendous rocket ! 

And somewhere a window was broken. . . . 

- What's that ? " said I. 

** It isn't — ?" cried the little man, and 
rushed to the corner window. 

All the others rushed to the window like- 
wise. I sat staring at them. 

Suddenly I leapt up, knocked over my third 
egg, and rushed for the window also. I had 
just thought of something. ** Nothing to be 
seen there," cried the little man, rushing for 
the door. 

** It's that boy ! " I cried, bawling in hoarse 
fury ; ** it's that accursed boy ! " and turning 
about I pushed the waiter aside — he was just 
bringing me some more toast — and rushed 
violently out of the room and down and out 
upon the queer little esplanade in front of the 
hotel. 

The sea, which had been smooth, was rough 
now with hurrying cat's-paws, and all about 
where the sphere had been was tumbled water 
like the wake of a ship. Above, a little puff 
of cloud whirled like dispersing smoke, and the 
three or four people on the beach were staring 
up with interrogative faces towards the point 
of that unexpected report. And that was all ! 
Boots and waiter and the four young men in 



262 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

blazers came rushing out behind me. Shouts 
came from windows and doors, and all sorts 
of worrying people came into sight — agape. 

For a time I stood there, too overwhelmed 
by this new development to think of the people. 

At first I was too stunned to see the thing 
as any definite disaster — I was just stunned, 
as a man is by some accidental violent blow. 
It is only afterwards he begins to appreciate 
his specific injury. 

" Good Lord ! " 

I felt as though somebody was pouring funk 
out of a can down the back of my neck. My 
legs became feeble. I had got the first intima- 
tion of what the disaster meant for me. There 
was that confounded boy — sky high ! I was 
utterly ''left." There was the gold in the 
coffee-room — my only possession on earth. 
How would it all work out.'* The general effect 
was of a gigantic unmanageable confusion. 

*' I say," said the voice of the little man 
behind. ** I say, you know." 

I wheeled about, and there were twenty or 
thirty people, a sort of irregular investment 
of people, all bombarding me with dumb in- 
terrogation, with infinite doubt and suspicion. 
I felt the compulsion of their eyes intolerably. 
I groaned aloud. 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 263 

''I can't I'' I shouted. '' I tell you I can't! 
Fm not equal to it ! You must puzzle and — 
and be damned to you ! " 

I gesticulated convulsively. He receded a 
step as though I had threatened him. I made 
a bolt through them into the hotel. I charged 
back into the coffee-room, rang the bell furi- 
ously. I gripped the waiter as he entered. 
'' D'ye hear ? " I shouted. " Get help and carry 
these bars up to my room right away." 

He failed to understand me, and I shouted 
and raved at him. A scared-looking little old 
man in a green apron appeared, and further 
two of the young men in flannels. I made a 
dash at them and commandeered their ser- 
vices. As soon as the gold was in my room 
I felt free to quarrel. "Now get out," I 
shouted ; '* all of you get out if you don't 
want to see a man go mad before your eyes ! " 
And I helped the waiter by the shoulder as 
he hesitated in the doorway. And then, as 
soon as I had the door locked on them all, 
I tore off the little man's clothes again, shied 
them right and left, and got into bed forthwith. 
And there I lay swearing and panting and 
cooling for a very long time. 

At last I was calm enough to get out of bed 
and ring up the round-eyed waiter for a flannel 



264 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

nightshirt, a soda and whisky, and some good 
cigars. And these things being procured me, 
after an exasperating delay that drove me 
several times to the bell, I locked the door 
again and proceeded very deliberately to look 
the entire situation in the face. 

The net result of the great experiment pre- 
sented itself as an absolute failure. It was a 
rout, and I was the sole survivor. It was an 
absolute collapse, and this was the final dis- 
aster. There was nothing for it but to save 
myself, and as much as I could in the way 
of prospects from our ddbdcle. At one fatal 
crowning blow all my vague resolutions of 
return and recovery had vanished. My in- 
tention of going back to the moon, of getting 
a sphereful of gold, and afterwards of having 
a fragment of Cavorite analysed and so reco- 
vering the great secret — perhaps, finally, even 
of recovering Cavor's body — all these ideas 
vanished altogether. 

I was the sole survivor, and that was all. 

I think that going to bed was one of the 
luckiest ideas I have ever had in an emer- 
gency. I really believe I should either have 
got loose-headed or done some fatal, indiscreet 
thing. But there, locked in and secure from 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 265 

all interruption, I could think out the position 
in all its bearings and make my arrangements 
at leisure. 

Of course it was quite clear to me what had 
happened to the boy. He had crawled into 
the sphere, meddled with the studs, shut the 
Cavorite windows, and gone up. It was highly 
improbable he had screwed in the manhole 
stopper, and, even if he had, the chances were 
a thousand to one against his getting back. It 
was fairly evident that he would gravitate with 
my bales to somewhere near the middle of the 
sphere and remain there, and so cease to be a 
legitimate terrestrial interest, however remark- 
able he might seem to the inhabitants of some 
remote quarter of space. I very speedily con- 
vinced myself on that point. And as for any 
responsibility I might have in the matter, the 
more I reflected upon that, the clearer it be- 
came that if only I kept quiet about things, I 
need not trouble myself about that. If I was 
faced by sorrowing parents demanding their 
lost boy, I had merely to demand my lost 
sphere— or ask them what they meant. At first 
I had had a vision of weeping parents and 
guardians, and all sorts of complications ; but 
now I saw that I simply had to keep my mouth 
shut, and nothing in that way could arise. 



266 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

And, indeed, the more I lay and smoked and 
thought, the more evident became the wisdom 
of impenetrability. 

It is within the right of every British citizen, 
provided he does not commit damage nor, in- 
decorum, to appear suddenly wherever he 
pleases, and as ragged and filthy as he pleases, 
and with whatever amount of virgin gold he 
sees fit to encumber himself, and no one has 
any right at all to hinder and detain him in 
this procedure. I formulated that at last to 
myself, and repeated it over as a sort of private 
Magna Charta of my liberty. 

Once I had put that issue on one side, I 
could take up and consider in an equable 
manner certain considerations I had scarcely 
dared to think of before, namely, those arising 
out of the circumstances of my bankruptcy. 
Biijt now, looking at this matter calmly and at 
leisure, I could see that if only I suppressed 
my identity by a temporary assumption of 
some less well-known name, and if I retained 
the two months' beard that had grown upon 
me, the risks of any annoyance from the spite- 
ful creditor to whom I have already alluded 
became very small indeed. From that to a 
definite course of rational worldly action was 
plain sailing. It was all amazingly petty, no 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 267 

doubt, but what was there remaining for me 
to do? 

Whatever I did I was resolved that I would 
keep myself level and right side up. 

I ordered up writing materials, and addressed 
a letter to the New Romney Bank — the nearest, 
the waiter informed me — telling the manager I 
wished to open an account with him, and re- 
questing him to send two trustworthy persons 
properly authenticated in a cab with a good 
horse to fetch some hundredweight of gold 
with which I happened to be encumbered. I 
signed the letter *' Blake," which seemed to me 
to be a thoroughly respectable sort of name. 
This done, I got a Folkestone Blue Book, 
picked out an outfitter, and asked him to send 
a cutter to measure me for a drab tweed suit, 
ordering at the same time a valise, dressing 
bag, brown boots, shirts, hats (to fit), and so 
forth ; and from a watchmaker I also ordered a 
watch. And these letters being despatched, I 
had up as good a lunch as the hotel could give, 
and then lay smoking a cigar, as calm and 
ordinary as possible, until in accordance with 
my instructions two duly authenticated clerks 
came from the bank and weighed and took 
away my gold. After which I pulled the 
clothes over my ears in order to drown any 



268 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

knocking, and went very comfortably to 
sleep. 

I went to sleep. No doubt it was a prosaic 
thing for the first man back from the moon to 
do, and I can imagine that the young and 
imaginative reader will find my behaviour dis- 
appointing. But I was horribly fatigued and 
bothered, and, confound it ! what else was 
there to do ? There certainly was not the 
remotest chance of my being believed, if I had 
told my story then, and it would certainly have 
subjected me to intolerable annoyances. I 
went to sleep. When at last I woke up again 
I was ready to face the world, as I have always 
been accustomed to face it since I came to 
years of discretion. And so I got away to 
Italy, and there it is I am writing this story. 
If the world will not have it as fact, then the 
world may take it as fiction. It is no concern 
of mine. 

And now that the account is finished, I am 
amazed to think how completely this adven- 
ture is gone and done with. Everybody be- 
lieves that Cavor was a not very brilliant 
scientific experimenter who blew up his house 
and himself at Lympne, and they explain the 
bang that followed my arrival at Littlestone by 
a reference to the experiments with explosives 



MR. BEDFORD AT LITTLESTONE 269 

that are going on continually at the govern- 
ment establishment of Lydd, two miles away. 
I must confess that hitherto I have not ac- 
knowledged my share in the disappearance 
of Master Tommy Simmons, which was that 
little boy's name. That, perhaps, may prove a 
difficult item of corroboration to explain away. 
They account for my appearance in rags with 
two bars of indisputable gold upon the Little- 
stone beach in various ingenious ways — it 
doesn't worry me what they think of me. 
They say I have strung all these things to- 
gether to avoid being questioned too closely 
as to the source of my wealth. I would like 
to see the man who could invent a story that 
would hold together like this one. Well, they 
must take it as fiction — there it is. 

I have told my story — and now I suppose I 
have to take up the worries of this terrestrial 
life again. Even if one has been to the moon, 
one has still to earn a living. So I am work- 
ing here at Amalfi, on the scenario of that play 
I sketched before Cavor came walking into my 
world, and I am trying to piece my life together 
as it was before ever I saw him. I must confess 
that I find it hard to keep my mind on the play 
when the moonshine comes into my room. It 
is full moon here, and last night I was out on 



270 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

the pergola for hours, staring away at that 
shining blankness that hides so much. Ima- 
gine it ! tables and chairs, and trestles and 
bars of gold ! Confound it ! — if only one could 
hit on that Cavorite again ! But a thing like 
that doesn't come twice in a life. Here I am, 
a little better off than I was at Lympne, and 
that is all. And Cavor has committed suicide 
in a more elaborate way than any human being 
ever did before. So the story closes as finally 
and completely as a dream. It fits in so little 
with all the other things of life, so much of it 
is so utterly remote from all human experience, 
the leaping, the eating, the breathing, and these 
weightless times, that indeed there are moments 
when, in spite of my moon gold, I do more 
than half believe myself that the whole thing 
was a dream. . . . 



XXII 

THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION OF MR. 
JULIUS WENDIGEE 

When I had finished my account of my return 
to the earth at Littlestone I wrote, " The End," 
made a flourish, and threw my pen aside, fully 
believing that the whole story of the First Men 
in the Moon was done. Not only had I done 
this, but I had placed my manuscript in the 
hands of a literary agent, had permitted it to be 
sold, had seen the greater portion of it appear 
in the Strand Magazine, and was setting to 
work again upon the scenario of the play I had 
commenced at Lympne before I realised that 
the end was not yet. And then, following me 
from Amalfi to Algiers, there reached me (it is 
now about six months ago) one of the most 
astounding communications I have ever been 
fated to receive. Briefly, it informed me that 
Mr. Julius Wendigee, a Dutch electrician, who 
has been experimenting with certain apparatus 

akin to the apparatus used by Mr. Tesla in 

271 



272 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

America, in the hope of discovering some 
method of communication with Mars, was re- 
ceiving day by day a curiously fragmentary 
message in English, which was indisputably 
emanating from Mr. Cavor in the moon. 

At first I thought the thing was an elaborate 
practical joke by some one who had seen the 
manuscript of my narrative. I answered Mr. 
Wendigee jestingly, but he replied in a manner 
that put such suspicion altogether aside, and in 
a state of inconceivable excitement I hurried 
from Algiers to the little observatory upon the 
St. Gothard in which he was working. In 
the presence of his record and his appliances — 
and above all of the messages from Cavor 
that were coming to hand — my lingering doubts 
vanished. I decided at once to accept a pro- 
posal he made me to remain with him, assisting 
him to take down the record from day to day, 
and endeavouring with him to send a message 
back to the moon. Cavor, we learnt, was not 
only alive but free, in the midst of an almost 
inconceivable community of these ant -like 
beings, these ant-men, in the blue darkness 
of the lunar caves. He was lamed, it seemed, 
but otherwise in quite good health — in better 
health, he distinctly said, than he usually en- 
joyed on earth. He had had a fever, but it 



THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION 273 

had left no bad effects. But curiously enough 
he seemed to be labouring under a conviction 
that I was either dead in the moon crater or 
lost in the deep of space. 

His message began to be received by Mr. 
Wendigee when that gentleman was engaged 
in quite a different investigation. The reader 
will no doubt recall the little excitement that 
began the century, arising out of an announce- 
ment by Mr. Nikola Tesla, the American 
electrical celebrity, that he had received a 
message from Mars. His announcement re- 
newed attention to a fact that had long been 
familiar to scientific people, namely : that from 
some unknown source in space, waves of elec- 
tro-magnetic disturbance, entirely similar to 
those used by Signor Marconi for his wireless 
telegraphy, are constantly reaching the earth. 
Besides Mr. Tesla quite a number of other 
observers have been engaged in perfecting 
apparatus for receiving and recording these 
vibrations, though few would go so far as to 
consider them actual messages from some extra- 
terrestrial sender. Among that few, however, 
we must certainly count Mr. Wendigee. Ever 
since 1898 he had devoted himself almost en- 
tirely to this subject, and being a man of ample 
means he had erected an observatory on the 

s 



274 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

flanks of Monte Rosa, in a position singularly- 
adapted in every way for such observations. 

My scientific attainments, I must admit, are 
not great, but so far as they enable me to 
judge, Mr. Wendigee's contrivances for de- 
tecting and recording any disturbances in the 
electro-magnetic conditions of space are singu- 
larly original and ingenious. And by a happy 
combination of circumstances they were set up 
and in operation about two months before 
Cavor made his first attempt to call up the 
earth. Consequently we have fragments of 
his communication even from the beginning. 
Unhappily, they are only fragments, and the 
most momentous of all the things that he had 
to tell humanity — the instructions, that is, for 
the making of Cavorite, if, indeed, he ever 
transmitted them — have throbbed themselves 
away unrecorded into space. We never suc- 
ceeded in getting a response back to Cavor. 
He was unable to tell, therefore, what we had 
received or what we had missed ; nor, indeed, 
did he certainly know that any one on earth 
was really aware of his efforts to reach us. 
And the persistence he displayed in sending 
eighteen long descriptions of lunar affairs — as 
they would be if we had them complete — s]iows 
how much his mind must have turned back 



THE ASTONISHING COMMUNICATION 275 

towards his native planet since he left it two 
years ago. 

You can imagine how amazed Mr. Wendigee 
must have been when he discovered his record 
of electro-magnetic disturbances interlaced by 
Cavor's straightforward English. Mr. Wendi- 
gee knew nothing of our wild journey moon- 
ward, and suddenly — this English out of the 
void! 

It is well the reader should understand the 
conditions under which it would seem these 
messages were sent. Somewhere within the 
moon Cavor certainly had access for a time to 
a considerable amount of electrical apparatus, 
and it would seem he rigged up — perhaps 
furtively — a transmitting arrangement of the 
Marconi type. This he was able to operate 
at irregular intervals : sometimes for only half- 
an-hour or so, sometimes for three or four 
hours at a stretch. At these times he trans- 
mitted his earthward message, regardless of 
the fact that the relative position of the moon 
and points upon the earth's surface is con- 
stantly altering. As a consequence of this and 
of the necessary imperfections of our recording 
instruments his communication comes and goes 
in our records in an extremely fitful manner ; it 
becomes blurred ; it ** fades out " in a mys- 



276 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

terious and altogether exasperating way. And 
added to this is the fact that he was not an 
expert operator; he had partly forgotten, or 
never completely mastered, the code in general 
use, and as he became fatigued he dropped 
words and misspelt in a curious manner. 

Altogether we have probably lost quite half 
of the communications he made, and much we 
have is damaged, broken, and partly effaced. 
In the abstract that follows the reader must be 
prepared therefore for a considerable amount 
of break, hiatus, and change of topic. Mr. 
Wendigee and I are collaborating in a com- 
plete and annotated edition of the Cavor 
record, which we hope to publish, together 
with a detailed account of the instruments 
employed, beginning with the first volume in 
January next. That will be the full and scien- 
tific report, of which this is only the popular 
first transcript. But here we give at least 
sufficient to complete the story I have told, 
and to give the broad outlines of the state of 
that other world so near, so akin, and yet so 
dissimilar to our own. 



XXIII 

AN ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES FIRST 
RECEIVED FROM MR. CAVOR 

The two earlier messages of Mr. Cavor may 
very well be reserved for that larger volume. 
They simply tell, with greater brevity and with 
a difference in several details that is interesting, 
but not of any vital importance, the bare facts 
of the making of the sphere and our departure 
from the world. Throughout, Cavor speaks of 
me as a man who is dead, but with a curious 
change of temper as he approaches our landing 
on the moon. " Poor Bedford," he says of me, 
and ** this poor young man " ; and he blames 
himself for inducing a young man, " by no 
means well equipped for such adventures," to 
leave a planet **on which he was indisputably 
fitted to succeed " on so precarious a mission. 
I think he underrates the part my energy and 
practical capacity played in bringing about the 
realisation of his theoretical sphere. "We 

arrived," he says, with no more account of our 

277 



278 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

passage through space than if we had made a 
journey of common occurrence in a railway train. 

And then he becomes increasingly unfair to 
me. Unfair, indeed, to an extent I should not 
have expected in a man trained in the search 
for truth. Looking back over my previously 
written account of these things, I must insist 
that I have been altogether juster to Cavor 
than he has been to me. I have extenu- 
ated little and suppressed nothing. But his 
account is : — 

"It speedily became apparent that the entire 
strangeness of our circumstances and surround- 
ings — great loss of weight, attenuated but 
highly oxygenated air, consequent exaggera- 
tion of the results of muscular effort, rapid 
development of weird plants from obscure 
spores, lurid sky — was exciting my companion 
unduly. On the moon his character seemed 
to deteriorate. He became impulsive, rash, 
and quarrelsome. In a little while his folly 
in devouring some gigantic vesicles and his 
consequent intoxication led to our capture 
by the Selenites — before we had had the 
slightest opportunity of properly observing 
their ways. ..." 

(He says, you observe, nothing of his own 
concession to these same "vesicles.") 



ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 279 

And he goes on from that point to say that 
**We came to a difficult passage with them, 
and Bedford mistaking certain gestures of 
theirs" — pretty gestures they were! — ''gave 
way to a panic violence. He ran amuck, 
killed three, and perforce I had to flee with 
him after the outrage. Subsequently we 
fought with a number who endeavoured to 
bar our way, and slew seven or eight more. 
It says much for the tolerance of these beings 
that on my recapture I was not instantly slain. 
We made our way to the exterior and sepa- 
rated in the crater of our arrival, to increase 
our chances of recovering our sphere. But 
presently I came upon a body of Selenites, led 
by two who were curiously different, even in 
form, from any of those we had seen hitherto, 
with larger heads and smaller bodies, and 
much more elaborately wrapped about. And 
after evading them for some time I fell into 
a crevasse, cut my head rather badly and 
displaced my patella, and, finding crawling 
very painful, decided to surrender — if they 
would still permit me to do so. This they 
did, and, perceiving my helpless condition, 
carried me with them again into the moon. 
And of Bedford I have heard or seen nothing 
more, nor, so far as I can gather, has any 



28o THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Selenite. Either the night overtook him in 
the crater, or else, which is more probable, 
he found the sphere, and, desiring to steal a 
march upon me, made off with it — only, I fear, 
to find it uncontrollable, and to meet a more 
lingering fate in outer space." 

And with that Cavor dismisses me and goes 
on to more interesting topics. I dislike the 
idea of seeming to use my position as his editor 
to deflect his story in my own interest, but 
I am obliged to protest here against the turn 
he gives these occurrences. He says nothing 
about that gasping message on the blood- 
stained paper in which he told, or attempted 
to tell, a very different story. The dignified 
self-surrender is an altogether new view of the 
affair that has come to him, I must insist, since 
he began to feel secure among the lunar people ; 
and as for the ''stealing a march" conception, 
I am quite willing to let the reader decide be- 
tween us on what he has before him. I know 
I am not a model man — I have made no 
pretence to be. But am I ;(ka^ 9 

However, that is the sum of my wrongs. 
From this point I can edit Cavor with an 
untroubled mind, for he mentions me no 
more. 

It would seem the Selenites who had come 



ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 281 

upon him carried him to some point in the 
interior down **a great shaft" by means of 
what he describes as "a sort of balloon." We 
gather from the rather confused passage in 
which he describes this, and from a number of 
chance allusions and hints in other and subse- 
quent messages, that this ** great shaft" is one 
of an enormous system of artificial shafts that 
run, each from what is called a lunar ** crater," 
downwards for very nearly a hundred miles 
towards the central portion of our satellite. 
These shafts communicate by transverse tun- 
nels, they throw out abysmal caverns and 
expand into great globular places ; the whole 
of the moon's substance for a hundred miles 
inward, indeed, is a mere sponge of rock. 
*' Partly," says Cavor, ''this sponginess is 
natural, but very largely it is due to the enor- 
mous industry of the Selenites in the past. 
The enormous circular mounds of the exca- 
vated rock and earth it is that form these great 
circles about the tunnels known to earthly 
astronomers (misled by a false analogy) as 
volcanoes." 

It was down this shaft they took him, in 
this ''sort of balloon" he speaks of, at first 
into an inky blackness and then into a re- 
gion of continually increasing phosphorescence. 



282 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Cavor's despatches show him to be curiously 
regardless of detail for a scientific man, but 
we gather that this light was due to the 
streams and cascades of water — ** no doubt 
containing some phosphorescent organism" 
— that flowed ever more abundantly down- 
ward towards the Central Sea. And as he 
descended, he says, " The Selenites also be- 
came luminous." And at last far below him 
he saw, as it were, a lake of heatless fire, the 
waters of the Central Sea, glowing and eddy- 
ing in strange perturbation, "like luminous 
blue milk that is just on the boil." 

** This Lunar Sea," says Cavor, in a later 
passage, " is not a stagnant ocean ; a solar tide 
sends it in a perpetual flow around the lunar 
axis, and strange storms and boilings and rush- 
ings of its waters occur, and at times cold winds 
and thunderings that ascend out of it into the 
busy ways of the great ant-hill above. It is 
only when the water is in motion that it gives 
out light ; in its rare seasons of calm it is black. 
Commonly, when one sees it, its waters rise and 
fall in an oily swell, and flakes and big rafts of 
shining, bubbly foam drift with the sluggish, 
faintly glowing current. The Selenites navigate 
its cavernous straits and lagoons in little shallow 
boats of a canoe-like shape ; and even before 



ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 283 

my journey to the galleries about the Grand 
Lunar, who is Master of the Moon, I was per- 
mitted to make a brief excursion on its waters. 

*' The caverns and passages are naturally very 
tortuous. A large proportion of these ways are 
known only to expert pilots among the fisher- 
men, and not infrequently Selenites are lost for 
ever in their labyrinths. In their remoter re- 
cesses, I am told, strange creatures lurk, some 
of them terrible and dangerous creatures that 
all the science of the moon has been unable to 
exterminate. There is particularly the Rapha, 
an inextricable mass of clutching tentacles that 
one hacks to pieces only to multiply ; and the 
Tzee, a darting creature that is never seen, so 
subtly and suddenly does it slay. ..." 

He gives us a gleam of description. 

** I was reminded on this excursion of what I 
have read of the Mammoth Caves ; if only I had 
had a yellow flambeau instead of the pervading 
blue light, and a solid-looking boatman with an 
oar instead of a scuttle-faced Selenite working 
an engine at the back of the canoe, I could have 
imagined I had suddenly got back lo earth. 
The rocks about us were very various, some- 
times black, sometimes pale blue and veined, 
and once they flashed and glittered as though 
we had come into a mine of sapphires. And 



284 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

below one saw the ghostly phosphorescent 
fishes flash and vanish in the hardly less phos- 
phorescent deep. Then, presently, a long ultra- 
marine vista down the turgid stream of one of 
the channels of traffic, and a landing-stage, 
and then, perhaps, a glimpse up the enormous 
crowded shaft of one of the vertical ways. 

** In one great place heavy with glistening 
stalactites a number of boats were fishing. We 
went alongside one of these and watched the 
long-armed fishing Selenites winding in a net. 
They were little, hunchbacked insects, with very 
strong arms, short, bandy legs, and crinkled 
face-masks. As they pulled at it that net 
seemed the heaviest thing I had come upon 
in the moon ; it was loaded with weights — no 
doubt of gold — and it took a long time to draw, 
for in those waters the larger and more edible 
fish lurk deep. The fish in the net came up 
like a blue moonrise — a blaze of darting, tossing 
blue. 

" Among their catch was a many-tentaculate, 
evil-eyed black thing, ferociously active, whose 
appearance they greeted with shrieks and twit- 
ters, and which with quick, nervous movements 
they hacked to pieces by means of little hatchets. 
All its dissevered limbs continued to lash and 
writhe in a vicious manner. Afterwards, when 



ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 285 

fever had hold of me, I dreamt again and again 
of that bitter, furious creature rising so vigorous 
and active out of the unknown sea. It was the 
most active and malignant thing of all the living 
creatures I have yet seen in this world inside 
the moon. . . . 

" The surface of this sea must be very nearly 
two hundred miles (if not more) below the level 
of the moon's exterior ; all the cities of the moon 
lie, I learnt, immediately above this Central Sea, 
in such cavernous spaces and artificial galleries 
as I have described, and they communicate with 
the exterior by enormous vertical shafts which 
open invariably in what are called by earthly 
astronomers the * craters ' of the moon. The 
lid covering one such aperture I had already 
seen during the wanderings that had preceded 
my capture. 

" Upon the condition of the less central 
portion of the moon I have not yet arrived 
at very precise knowledge. There is an enor- 
mous system of caverns in which the moon- 
calves shelter during the night ; and there are 
abattoirs and the like — in one of these it was 
that I and Bedford fought with the Selenite 
butchers — and I have since seen balloons laden 
with meat descending out of the upper dark. 



286 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

I have as yet scarcely learnt as much of these 
things as a Zulu In London would learn about 
the British corn supplies In the same time. It 
is clear, however, that these vertical shafts and 
the vegetation of the surface must play an 
essential role in ventilating and keeping fresh 
the atmosphere of the moon. At one time, 
and particularly on my first emergence from 
my prison, there was certainly a cold wind 
blowing down the shaft, and later there was 
a kind of sirocco upward that corresponded 
with my fever. ForJ at the end of about three 
weeks I fell ill of an indefinable sort of fever, 
and in spite of sleep and the quinine tabloids 
that very fortunately I had brought in my 
pocket, I remained ill and fretting miserably, 
almost to the time when I was taken into the 
presence of the Grand Lunar, who is Master of 
the Moon. 

" I will not dilate on the wretchedness of 
my condition," he remarks, "during those days 
of ill-health." And he goes on with great 
amplitude with details I omit here. " My 
temperature," he concludes, **kept abnormally 
high for a long time, and I lost all desire 
for food. I had stagnant waking Intervals, 
and sleep tormented by dreams, and at one 
phase I was, I remember, so weak as to be 



ABSTRACT OF THE SIX MESSAGES 287 

earth-sick and almost hysterical. I longed 
almost intolerably for colour to break the 
everlasting blue. . . ." 

He reverts again presently to the topic of 
this sponge caught lunar atmosphere. I am 
told by astronomers and physicists that all he 
tells is in absolute accordance with what was 
already known of the moon's condition. Had 
earthly astronomers had the courage and 
imagination to push home a bold induction, 
says Mr. Wendigee, they might have foretold 
almost everything that Cavor has to say of 
the general structure of the moon. They 
know now pretty certainly that moon and 
earth are not so much satellite and primary 
as smaller and greater sisters, made out of 
one mass, and consequently made of the 
same material. And since the density of the 
moon is only thre©-fifths that of the earth, 
there can be nothing for it but that she is 
hollowed out by a great system of caverns. 
There was no necessity, said Sir Jabez Flap, 
F.R.S., that most entertaining exponent of 
the facetious side of the stars, that we should 
ever have gone to the moon to find out such 
easy inferences, and points the pun with an 
allusion to Gruyere, but he certainly might 
have announced his knowledge of the hollow- 



288 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

ness of the moon before. And if the moon 
is hollow, then the apparent absence of air 
and water is, of course, quite easily explained. 
The sea lies within at the bottom of the 
caverns, and the air travels through the great 
sponge of galleries, in accordance with simple 
physical laws. The caverns of the moon, on 
the whole, are very windy places. As the 
sunlight comes round the moon the air in 
the outer galleries on that side is heated, its 
pressure increases, some flows out on the 
exterior and mingles with the evaporating air 
of the craters (where the plants remove its 
carbonic acid), while the greater portion flows 
round through the galleries to replace the 
shrinking air of the cooling side that the sun- 
light has left. There is, therefore, a constant 
eastward breeze in the air of the outer galleries, 
and an up-flow during the lunar day up the 
shafts, complicated, of course, very greatly by 
the varying shape of the galleries, and the in- 
genious contrivances of the Selenite mind. . , . 



XXIV 

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE SELENITES 

The messages of Cavor from the sixth up to 
the sixteenth are for the most part so much 
broken, and they abound so in repetitions, that 
they scarcely form a consecutive narrative. 
They will be given in full, of course, in the 
scientific report, but here it will be far more 
convenient to continue simply to abstract and 
quote as in the former chapter. We have 
subjected every word to a keen critical scrutiny, 
and my own brief memories and impressions 
of lunar things have been of inestimable help 
in interpreting what would otherwise have been 
impenetrably dark. And, naturally, as living 
beings our interest centres far more upon the 
strange community of lunar insects in which he 
was living, it would seem, as an honoured guest 
than upon the mere physical condition oi their 
world. 

I have already made it clear, I think, that 
the Selenites I saw resembled man in main- 

289 rp 



290 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

taining the erect attitude, and in having four 
limbs, and I have compared the general ap- 
pearance of their heads and the jointing of 
their limbs to that of insects. I have men- 
tioned, too, the peculiar consequence of the 
smaller gravitation of the moon on their fragile 
slightness. Cavor confirms me upon all these 
points. He calls them ''animals," though of 
course they fall under no division of the classi- 
fication of earthly creatures, and he points out 
"the insect type of anatomy had, fortunately 
for men, never exceeded a relatively very small 
size on earth." The largest terrestrial insects, 
living or extinct, do not, as a matter of fact, 
measure 6 in. in length ; ** but here, against 
the lesser gravitation of the moon, a creature 
certainly as much an insect as vertebrate seems 
to have been able to attain to human and 
ultrahuman dimensions." 

He does not mention the ant, but through- 
out his allusions the ant is continually being 
brought before my mind, in its sleepless 
activity, in its intelligence and social organisa- 
tion, in its structure, and more particularly 
in the fact that it displays, in addition to the 
two forms, the male and the female form, that 
almost all other animals possess, a number of 
other sexless creatures, workers, soldiers, and 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 291 

the like, differing from one another in struc- 
ture, character, power, and use, and yet all 
members of the same species. For these 
Selenites, also, have a great variety of forms. 
Of course they are not only colossally greater 
in size than ants, but also, in Cavor's opinion 
at least, in intelligence, morality, and social 
wisdom are they colossally greater than men. 
And instead of the four or five different 
forms of ant that are found, there are almost 
innumerably different forms of Selenite. I 
have endeavoured to indicate the very con- 
siderable difference observable in such Selen- 
ites of the outer crust as I happened to 
encounter ; the differences in size and propor- 
tions were certainly as wide as the differences 
between the most widely separated races of 
men. But such differences as I saw fade abso- 
lutely to nothing in comparison with the huge 
distinctions of which Cavor tells. It would 
seem the exterior Selenites I saw were, indeed, 
mostly engaged in kindred occupations — moon- 
calf herds, butchers, fleshers, and the like. 
But within the moon, practically unsuspected 
by me, there are, it seems, a number of other 
sorts of Selenite, differing in size, differing in 
the relative size of part to part, differing in 
power and appearance, and yet not different 



292 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

species of creatures, but only different forms 
of one species, and retaining through all their 
variations a certain common likeness that 
marks their specific unity. The moon is, 
indeed, a sort of vast ant-hill, only, instead of 
there being only four or five sorts of ant, 
there are many hundred different sorts of 
Selenite, and almost every gradation between 
one sort and another. 

It would seem the discovery came upon 
Cavor very speedily. I infer rather than learn 
from his narrative that he was captured by the 
mooncalf herds under the direction of those 
other Selenites who ''have larger brain cases 
(heads ?) and very much shorter legs." Find- 
ing he would not walk even under the goad, 
they carried him into darkness, crossed a 
narrow, plank-like bridge that may have been 
the identical bridge I had refused, and put 
him down in something that must have seemed 
at first to be some sort of lift. This was the 
balloon — it had certainly been absolutely in- 
visible to us in the darkness — and what had 
seemed to me a mere plank-walking into the 
void was really, no doubt, the passage of the 
gangway. In this he descended towards con- 
stantly more luminous caverns of the moon. 
At first they descended in silence — save for 




" They carried him into darkness 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 293 

the twitterings of the Selenites — and then into 
a stir of windy movement. In a little while 
the profound blackness had made his eyes so 
sensitive that he began to see more and more 
of the things about him, and at last the vague 
took shape. 

''Conceive an enormous cylindrical space," 
says Cavor in his seventh message, '*a quarter 
of a mile across, perhaps ; very dimly lit at 
first and then brighter, with bigplatforms twist- 
ing down its sides in a spiral that vanishes at 
last below in a blue profundity ; and lit even 
more brightly — one could not tell how or why. 
Think of the well of the very largest spiral 
staircase or lift-shaft that you have ever looked 
down, and magnify that by a hundred. Ima- 
gine it at twilight seen through blue glass. 
Imagine yourself looking down that ; only 
imagine also that you feel extraordinarily light, 
and have got rid of any giddy feeling you 
might have on earth, and you will have the 
first conditions of my impression. Round this 
enormous shaft imagine a broad gallery run- 
ning in a much steeper spiral than would be 
credible on earth, and forming a steep road 
protected from the gulf only by a little parapet 
that vanishes at last in perspective a couple of 
miles below. 



294 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** Looking up, I saw the very fellow of the 
downward vision ; it had, of course, the effect 
of looking into a very steep cone. A wind 
was blowing down the shaft, and far above 
I fancy I heard, growing fainter and fainter, 
the bellowing of the mooncalves that were 
being driven down again from their even- 
ing pasturage on the exterior. And up and 
down the spiral galleries were scattered nume- 
rous moon people, pallid, faintly self-luminous 
beings, regarding our appearance or busied 
on unknown errands. 

" Either I fancied it or a flake of snow 
came drifting down on the icy breeze. And 
then, falling Hke a snowflake, a little figure, 
a little man-insect clinging to a parachute, 
drove down very swiftly towards the central 
places of the moon. 

**The big-headed Selenite sitting beside 
me, seeing me move my head with the ges- 
ture of one who saw, pointed with his trunk- 
like * hand *and indicated a sort of jetty coming 
into sight very far below : a little landing- 
stage, as it were, hanging into the void. As 
it swept up towards us our pace diminished 
very rapidly, and In a few moments, as it 
seemed, we were abreast of it and at rest. A 
moorlng-rope was flung and grasped, and I 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 295 

found myself pulled down to a level with a 
great crowd of Selenites, who jostled to 
see me. 

** It was an incredible crowd. Suddenly and 
violently there was forced upon my attention 
the vast amount of difference there is amongst 
these beings of the moon. 

** Indeed, there seemed not two alike in all 
that jostling multitude. They differed in 
shape, they differed in size, they rang all the 
horrible changes on the theme of Selenite form! 
Some bulged and overhung, some ran about 
among the feet of their fellows. All of them 
had a grotesque and disquieting suggestion 
of an insect that has somehow contrived to 
mock humanity ; but all seemed to present 
an incredible exaggeration of some particular 
feature : one had a vast right fore-limb, an 
enormous antennal arm, as it were ; one 
seemed all leg, poised, as it were, on stilts ; 
another protruded the edge of his face mask 
into a nose-like organ that made him start- 
lingly human until one saw his expressionless 
gaping mouth. The strange and (except for 
the want of mandibles and palps) most insect- 
like head of the mooncalf-minders underwent, 
indeed, the most incredible transformations : 
here it was broad and low, here high and 



296 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

narrow ; here its leathery brow was drawn 
out into horns and strange features ; here it 
was whiskered and divided, and there with a 
grotesquely human profile. One distortion was 
particularly conspicuous. There were several 
brain cases distended like bladders to a huge 
size, with the face mask reduced to quite small 
proportions. There were several amazing 
forms, with heads reduced to microscopic pro- 
portions and blobby bodies ; and fantastic, 
flimsy things that existed, it would seem, only 
as a basis for vast, trumpet-like protrusions 
of the lower part of the mask. And oddest of 
all, as it seemed to me for the moment, two 
or three of these weird inhabitants of a sub- 
terranean world, a world sheltered by innumer- 
able miles of rock from sun or rain, carried 
umbrellas in their tentaculate hands ! — real ter- 
restrial-looking umbrellas ! And then I thought 
of the parachutist I had watched descend. 

" These moon people behaved exactly as a 
human crowd might have done in similar cir- 
cumstances : they jostled and thrust one an- 
other, they shoved one another aside, they even 
clambered upon one another to get a glimpse 
of me. Every moment they increased in num- 
bers, and pressed more urgently upon the discs 
of my ushers" — Cavor does not explain what 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 297 

he means by this — ** every moment fresh shapes 
emerged from the shadows and forced them- 
selves upon my astounded attention. And 
presently I was signed and helped into a sort 
of litter, and lifted up on the shoulders of 
strong-armed bearers, and so borne through 
the twilight over this seething multitude to- 
wards the apartments that were provided for 
me in the moon. All about me were eyes, 
faces, masks, a leathery noise like the rustling 
of beetle wings, and a great bleating and 
cricket-like twittering of Selenite voices. . . ." 

We gather he was taken to a ** hexagonal 
apartment," and there for a space he was con- 
fined. Afterwards he was given a much more 
considerable liberty ; indeed, almost as much 
freedom as one has in a civilised town on 
earth. And it would appear that the mys- 
terious being who is the ruler and master of 
the moon appointed two Selenites *' with large 
heads " to guard and study him, and to estab- 
lish whatever mental communications were pos- 
sible with him. And, amazing and incredible 
as it may seem, these two creatures, these 
fantastic men-insects, these beings of another 
world, were presently communicating with 
Cavor by means of terrestrial speech. 



298 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Cavor speaks of them as PhI~oo and Tsi-puff. 
Phi-oo, he says, was about 5 ft. high ; he had 
small, slender legs about 18 in. long, and slight 
feet of the common lunar pattern. On these 
balanced a little body, throbbing with the 
pulsations of his heart. He had long, soft, 
many-jointed arms ending in a tentacled grip, 
and his neck was many-jointed in the usual 
way, but exceptionally short and thick. His 
head, says Cavor — apparently alluding to some 
previous description that has gone astray in 
space — ** is of the common lunar type, but 
strangely modified. The mouth has the usual 
expressionless gape, but it is unusually small 
and pointing downward, and the mask is re- 
duced to the size of a large flat nose-flap. On 
either side are the little eyes. 

** The rest of the head is distended into a 
huge globe, and the chitinous leathery cuticle 
of the mooncalf herds thins out to a mere 
membrane, through which the pulsating brain 
movements are distinctly visible. He is a 
creature, indeed, with a tremendously hyper- 
trophied brain, and with the rest of his organism 
both relatively and absolutely dwarfed." 

In another passage Cavor compares the 
back view of him to Atlas supporting the 
world. Tsi-puff, it seems, was a very similar I 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 299 

insect, but his **face" was drawn out to a 
considerable length, and the brain hypertrophy- 
being in different regions, his head was not 
round but pear-shaped, with the stalk down- 
ward. There were also litter-carriers, lop-sided 
beings with enormous shoulders, very spidery 
ushers, and a squat foot attendant in Cavor's 
retinue. 

The manner in which Phi-oo and Tsi-purf 
attacked the problem of speech was fairly ob- 
vious. They came into this ''hexagonal cell " 
in which Cavor was confined, and began imitat- 
ing every sound he made, beginning with a 
cough. He seems to have grasped their in- 
tention with great quickness, and to have 
begun repeating words to them and pointing 
to indicate the application. The procedure 
was probably always the same. Phi-oo would 
attend to Cavor for a space, then point also 
and say the word he had heard. 

The first word he mastered was *' man," and 
the second "Mooney" — which Cavor on the 
spur of the moment seems to have used instead 
of '* Selenite " for the moon race. As soon as 
Phi-oo was assured of the meaning of a word 
he repeated it to Tsi-puff, who remembered 
it infallibly. They mastered over one hundred 
English nouns at their first session. 



300 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Subsequently it seems they brought an artist 
with them to assist the work of explanation 
with sketches and diagrams — Cavor's drawings 
being rather crude. He was, says Cavor, "a 
being with an active arm and an arresting 
eye," and he seemed to draw with incredible 
swiftness. 

The eleventh message is undoubtedly only a 
fragment of a longer communication.] After 
some broken sentences, the record of which is 
unintelligible, it goes on : — 

** But it will interest only linguists, and delay 
me too long, to give the details of the series of 
intent parleys of which these were the begin- 
ning, and, indeed, I very much doubt if I could 
give in anything like the proper order all the 
twistings and turnings that we made in our 
pursuit of mutual comprehension. Verbs were 
soon plain sailing — at least, such active verbs as 
I could express by drawings ; some adjectives 
were easy, but when it came to abstract nouns, 
to prepositions, and the sort of hackneyed 
figures of speech by means of which so much 
is expressed on earth, it was like diving in 
cork-jackets. Indeed, these difficulties were 
insurmountable until to the sixth lesson came 
a fourth assistant, a being with a huge, football- 
shaped head, whose /or^e was clearly the pursuit 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 301 

of Intricate analogy. He entered In a preoccu- 
pied manner, stumbling against a stool, and the 
difficulties that arose had to be presented to 
him with a certain amount of clamour and 
hitting and pricking before they reached his 
apprehension. But once he was Involved his 
penetration was amazing. Whenever there 
came a need of thinking beyond Phi-oo's by 
no means limited scope, this prolate-headed 
person was In request, but he Invariably told 
the conclusion to Tsl-puff, In order that it 
might be remembered ; Tsl-puff was ever the 
arsenal for facts. And so we advanced again. 

** It seemed long and yet brief — a matter of 
days before I was positively talking with these 
insects of the moon. Of course, at first It was 
an Intercourse Infinitely tedious and exasper- 
ating, but imperceptibly it has grown to com- 
prehension. And my patience has grown to 
meet Its limitations. PhI-00 it is who does all 
the talking. He does it with a vast amount of 
meditative provisional * Mm — M'm,' and he 
has caught up one or two phrases, * If I may 
say,' ' If you understand,' and beads all his 
speech with them. 

*' Thus he would discourse. Imagine him 
explaining his artist. 

*' * M'm — M'm — he — If I may say — draw. 



302 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

Eat little — drink little — draw. Love draw. No 
other thing. Hate all who not draw like him. 
Angry. Hate all who draw like him better. 
Hate most people. Hate all who not think all 
world for to draw. Angry. M'm. All things 
mean nothing to him — only draw. He like 
you ... if you understand. . . . New thing 
to draw. Ugly — striking. Eh ? 

** * He' — turning to Tsi-puff — iove remember 
words. Remember wonderful more than any. 
Think no, draw no — remember. Say ' — here 
he referred to his gifted assistant for a word 
— ' histories — all things. He hear once — say 
ever.' 

''It is more wonderful to me than I dreamt 
that anything ever could be again, to hear, in 
this perpetual obscurity, these extraordinary 
creatures — for even familiarity fails to weaken 
the inhuman effect of their appearance — con- 
tinually piping a nearer approach to cohe- 
rent earthly speech, — asking questions, giving 
answers. I feel that I am casting back to 
the fable-hearing period of childhood again, 
when the ant and the grasshopper talked to- 
gether and the bee judged between them. . . ." 

And while these linguistic exercises were 
going on Cavor seems to have experienced a con- 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 303 

siderable relaxation of his confinement. " The 
first dread and distrust our unfortunate conflict 
aroused is being," he said, ''continually effaced 
by the deliberate rationality of all I do." . . . 
*' I am now able to come and go as I please, or 
I am restricted only for my own good. So it is 
I have been able to get at this apparatus, and, 
assisted by a happy find among the material 
that is littered in this enormous store-cave, I 
have contrived to despatch these messages. So 
far not the slightest attempt has been made to 
interfere with me in this, though I have made 
it quite clear to Phi-00 that I am signalling to 
the earth. 

** * You talk to other ? ' he asked, watching 
me. 

'' * Others,' said I. 

** * Others,' he said. * Oh yes. Men ? ' 

*' And I went on transmitting." 

Cavor was continually making corrections in 
his previous accounts of the Selenites as fresh 
facts flowed in upon him to modify his conclu- 
sions, and accordingly one gives the quotations 
that follow with a certain amount of reservation. 
They are quoted from the ninth, thirteenth, and 
sixteenth messages, and, altogether vague and 
fragmentary as they are, they probably give as 



304 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

complete a picture of the~ social life of this 
strange community as mankind can now hope 
to have for many generations. 

" In the moon," says Cavor, "every citizen 
knows his place. He is born to that place, and 
the elaborate discipline of training and educa- 
tion and surgery he undergoes fits him at last 
so completely to it that he has neither ideas 
nor organs for any purpose beyond it. ' Why 
should he ? ' Phi-oo would ask. If, for example, 
a Selenite is destined to be a mathematician, 
his teachers and trainers set out at once to 
that end. They check any incipient disposi- 
tion to other pursuits, they encourage his 
mathematical bias with a perfect psychological 
skill. His brain grows, or at least the mathe- 
matical faculties of , his brain grow, and the rest 
of him only so much as is necessary to sustain 
this essential part of him. At last, save for 
rest and food, his one delight lies in the exer- 
cise and display of his faculty, his one interest 
in its application, his sole society with other 
specialists in his own line. His brain grows 
continually larger, at least so far as the por- 
tions engaging in mathematics are concerned ; 
they bulge ever larger and seem to suck all life 
and vigour from the rest of his frame. His 
limbs shrivel, his heart and digestive organs 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 305 

diminish, his insect face is hidden under its 
bulging contours. His voice becomes a mere 
stridulation for the stating of formulae ; he seems 
deaf to all but properly enunciated problems. 
The faculty of laughter, save for the sudden 
discovery of some paradox, is lost to him ; his 
deepest emotion is the evolution of a novel com- 
putation. And so he attains his end. 

** Or, again, a Selenite appointed to be a 
minder of mooncalves is from his earliest years 
induced to think and live mooncalf, to find his 
pleasure in mooncalf lore, his exercise in their 
tending and pursuit. He is trained to become 
wiry and active, his eye is indurated to the 
tight wrappings, the angular contours that con- 
stitute a * smart mooncalfishness.' He takes at 
last no interest in the deeper part of the moon ; 
he regards all Selenites not equally versed in 
mooncalves with indifference, derision, or hos- 
tility. His thoughts are of mooncalf pastures, 
and his dialect an accomplished mooncalf tech- 
nique. So also he loves his work, and dis- 
charges in perfect happiness the duty that 
justifies his being. And so it is with all sorts 
and conditions of Selenites — each is a perfect 
unit in a world machine. . . . 

" These beings with big heads, on whom the 
intellectual labours fall, form a sort of aris- 

u 



3o6 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

tocracy in this strange society, and at the head 
of them, quintessential of the moon, is that 
marvellous gigantic ganglion the Grand Lunar, 
into whose presence I am finally to come. The 
unlimited development of the minds of the 
intellectual class is rendered possible by the 
absence of any bony skull in the lunar anatomy, 
that strange box of bone that clamps about the 
developing brain of man, imperiously insisting 
* thus far and no farther ' to all his possibilities. 
They fall into three main classes differing 
greatly in influence and respect. There are 
the administrators, of whom Phi-oo is one, 
Selenites of considerable initiative and ver- 
satility, responsible each for a certain cubic 
content of the moon's bulk ; the experts like 
the football-headed thinker, who are trained to 
perform certain special operations ; and the 
erudite, who are the repositories of all know- 
ledge. To this latter class belongs Tsi-puff, 
the first lunar professor of terrestrial languages. 
With regard to these latter, it is a curious little 
thing to note that the unlimited growth of the 
lunar brain has rendered unnecessary the in- 
vention of all those mechanical aids to brain 
work which have distinguished the career of 
man. There are no books, no records of any 
sort, no libraries or inscriptions. All knowledge 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 307 

is stored in distended brains much as the honey- 
ants of Texas store honey in their distended 
abdomens. The lunar Somerset House and 
the lunar British Museum Library are collec- 
tions of living brains. . . . 

" The less specialised administrators, I note, 
do for the most part take a very lively interest 
in me whenever they encounter me. They 
will come out of the way and stare at me and 
ask questions to which Phi-oo will reply. I 
see them going hither and thither with a retinue 
of bearers, attendants, shouters, parachute- 
carriers, and so forth — queer groups to see. 
The experts for the most part ignore me 
completely, even as they ignore each other, 
or notice me only to begin a clamorous exhi- 
bition of their distinctive skill. The erudite 
for the most part are rapt in an impervious 
and apoplectic complacency, from which only 
a denial of their erudition can rouse them. 
Usually they are led about by little watchers 
and attendants, and often there are small and 
active-looking creatures, small females usually, 
that I am inclined to think are a sort of wife 
to them ; but some of the profounder scholars 
are altogether too great for locomotion, and 
are carried from place to place in a sort of 
sedan tub, wabbling jellies of knowledge that 



3o8 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

enlist my respectful astonishment. I have just 
passed one in coming to this place where I am 
permitted to amuse myself with these electrical 
toys, a vast, shaven, shaky head, bald and 
thin-skinned, carried on his grotesque stretcher. 
In front and behind came his bearers, and curi- 
ous, almost trumpet-faced, news disseminators 
shrieked his fame. 

** I have already mentioned the retinues that 
accompany most of the intellectuals : ushers, 
bearers, valets, extraneous tentacles and mus- 
cles, as it were, to replace the abortive physical 
powers of these hypertrophied minds. Porters 
almost invariably accompany them. There are 
also extremely swift messengers with spider- 
like legs, and * hands ' for grasping parachutes, 
and attendants with vocal organs that could 
well-nigh wake the dead. Apart from their 
controlling intelligence these subordinates are 
as inert and helpless as umbrellas in a stand. 
They exist only in relation to the orders 
they have to obey, the duties they have to 
perform. 

"The bulk of these insects, however, who 
go to and fro upon the spiral ways, who fill the 
ascending balloons and drop past me clinging 
to flimsy parachutes, are, I gather, of the oper- 
ative class. * Machine hands,' indeed, some of 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 309 

these are in actual nature — it is no figure of 
speech, the single tentacle of the mooncalf herd 
is profoundly modified for clawing, lifting, 
guiding, the rest of them no more than neces- 
sary subordinate appendages to these important 
parts. Some, who I suppose deal with bell- 
striking mechanisms, have enormously de- 
veloped auditory organs ; some whose work 
lies in delicate chemical operations project 
a vast olfactory organ ; others again have flat 
feet for treadles with anchylosed joints ; and 
others — who I have been told are glass-blowers 
— seem mere lung-bellows. But every one of 
these common Selenites I have seen at work is 
exquisitely adapted to the social need it meets. 
Fine work is done by fined-down workers, 
amazingly dwarfed and neat. Some I could 
hold on the palm of my hand. There is even 
a sort of turnspit Selenite, very common, whose 
duty and only delight it is to supply the motive 
power for various small appliances. And to 
rule over these things and order any erring 
tendency there might be in some aberrant 
natures are the most muscular beings I have 
seen in the moon, a sort of lunar police, who 
must have been trained from their earliest years 
to give a perfect respect and obedience to the 
swollen heads. 



3IO THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** The making of these various sorts of 
operative must be a very curious and interest- 
ing process. I am still very much in the dark 
about it, but quite recently I came upon a 
number of young Selenites confined in jars 
from which only the fore-Hmbs protruded, who 
were being compressed to become machine- 
minders of a special sort. The extended 
'hand' in this highly developed system of 
technical education is stimulated by irritants 
and nourished by injection, while the rest of 
the body is starved. Phi-oo, unless I mis- 
understood him, explained that in the earlier 
stages these queer little creatures are apt to 
display signs of suffering in their various 
cramped situations, but they easily become 
indurated to their lot ; and he took me on to 
where a number of flexible-limbed messengers 
were being drawn out and broken in. It is 
quite unreasonable, I know, but such glimpses of 
the educational methods of these beings affect 
me disagreeably. I hope, however, that may 
pass off, and I may be able to see more of this 
aspect of their wonderful social order. That 
wretched-looking hand-tentacle sticking out of 
its jar seemed to have a sort of limp appeal for 
lost possibilities ; it haunts me still, although, 
of course, it is really in the end a far more 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 311 

humane proceeding than our earthly method of 
leaving children to grow into human beings, 
and then making machines of them. 

'* Quite recently, too — I think it was on the 
eleventh or twelfth visit I made to this appa- 
ratus — I had a curious light upon the lives of 
these operatives. I was being guided through 
a short cut hither, instead of going down the 
spiral and by the quays of the Central Sea. 
From the devious windings of a long, dark 
gallery we emerged into a vast, low cavern, 
pervaded by an earthy smell, and, as things 
go in this darkness, rather brightly lit. The 
light came from a tumultuous growth of livid 
fungoid shapes — some indeed singularly like 
our terrestrial mushrooms, but standing as 
high or higher than a man. 

*' * Mooneys eat these ? " said I to Phi-00. 

''* Yes, food.' 

'' ' Goodness me ! ' I cried ; * what's that ? ' 

*' My eye had just caught the figure of an 
exceptionally big and ungainly Selenite lying 
motionless among the stems, face downward. 
We stopped. 

** * Dead ? ' I asked. (For as yet I have 
seen no dead in the moon, and I have 
grown curious.) 

'''No!' exclaimed Phi-00. * Him — worker 



312 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

— no work to do. Get little drink then — make 
sleep — till we him want. What good him 
wake, eh ? No want him walking about.' 

" * There's another ! ' cried I. 

*'And indeed all that huge extent of mush- 
room ground was, I found, peppered with 
these prostrate figures sleeping under an 
opiate until the moon had need of them. 
There were scores of them of all sorts, and 
we were able to turn over some of them, and 
examine them more precisely than I had been 
able to do previously. They breathed noisily 
at my doing so, but did not wake. One I 
remember very distinctly : he left a strong 
impression, I think, because some trick of *^he 
light and of his attitude was strongly sugges- 
tive of a drawn-up human figure. His fore- 
limbs were long, delicate tentacles — he was 
some kind of refined manipulator — and the 
pose of his slumber suggested a submissive 
suffering. No doubt it was quite a mistake 
for me to interpret his expression in that way, 
but I did. And as Phi-oo rolled him over 
into the darkness among the livid fleshiness 
again I felt a distinctly unpleasant sensation, 
although as he rolled the insect in him was 
confessed. 

"It simply illustrates the unthinking way 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 313 

in which one acquires habits of feeling. 
To drug the worker one does not want and 
toss him aside is surely far better than to 
expel him from his factory to wander starving 
in the streets. In every complicated social 
community there is necessarily a certain inter- 
mittency of employment for all specialised 
labour, and in this way the trouble of an * un- 
employed ' problem is altogether anticipated. 
And yet, so unreasonable are even scien- 
tifically trained minds, I still do not like the 
memory of those prostrate forms amidst those 
quiet, luminous arcades of fleshy 'growth, and 
I avoid that short cut in spite of the incon- 
verJences of the longer, more noisy, and more 
crowded alternative. 

** My alternative route takes me round by 
a huge, shadowy cavern, very crowded and 
clamorous, and here it is I see peering out of 
the hexagonal openings of a sort of honeycomb 
wall, or parading a large open space behind, or 
selecting the toys and amulets made to please 
them by the dainty-ten tacled jewellers who 
work in kennels below, the mothers of the 
moon-world — the queen bees, as it were, of the 
hive. They are noble-looking beings, fantas- 
tically and sometimes quite beautifully adorned, 



314 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

with a proud carriage, and, save for their mouths, 
almost microscopic heads. 

** Of the condition of the moon sexes, marry- 
ing and giving in marriage, and of birth and so 
forth among the Selenites, I have as yet been 
able to learn very little. With the steady pro- 
gress of Phi-oo in English, however, my igno- 
rance will no doubt as steadily disappear. I 
am of opinion that, as with the ants and bees, 
there is a large majority of the members in this 
community of the neuter sex. Of course on 
earth in our cities there are now many who 
never live that life of parentage which is the 
natural life of man. Here, as with the ants, 
this thing has become a normal condition of 
the race, and the whole of such replacement as 
is necessary falls upon this special and by no 
means numerous class of matrons, the mothers 
of the moon-world, large and stately beings 
beautifully fitted to bear the larval Selenite. 
Unless I misunderstand an explanation of 
Phi-oo's, they are absolutely incapable of cher- 
ishing the young they bring into the moon ; 
periods of foolish indulgence alternate with 
moods of aggressive violence, and as soon as 
possible the little creatures, who are quite soft 
and flabby and pale coloured, are transferred to 
the charge of celibate females, women ' workers ' 



NATURAL HISTORY OF SELENITES 315 

as it were, who in some cases possess brains of 
almost masculine dimensions." 

Just at this point, unhappily, this message 
broke off. Fragmentary and tantalising as 
the matter constituting this chapter is, it does 
nevertheless givQ a vague, broad impression 
of an altogether strange and wonderful world 
— a world with which our own may have to 
reckon we know not how speedily. This inter- 
mittent trickle of messages, this whispering of 
a record needle in the stilliness of the moun- 
tain slopes, is the first warning of such a change 
in human conditions as mankind has scarcely 
imagined heretofore. In that satellite of ours 
there are new elements, new appliances, new 
traditions, an overwhelming avalanche of new 
ideas, a strange race with whom we must in- 
evitably struggle for mastery — gold as common 
as iron or wood. . . . 



■■f, ■ 



XXV 

THE GRAND LUNAR 

The penultimate message describes, with occa- 
sionally even elaborate detail, the encounter 
between Cavor and the Grand Lunar, who is 
the ruler or master of the moon. Cavor 
seems to have sent most of it without inter- 
ference, but to have been interrupted in the 
concluding portion. The second came after 
an interval of a week. 

The first message begins : *' At last I am 
able to resume this — " it then becomes 
illegible for a space, and after a time re- 
sumes in mid-sentence. , ; 

The missing words of the following sentence 
are probably '' the crowd." There follows 
quite clearly: **grew ever denser as we drew 
near the palace of the Grand Lunar — if I may 
call a series of excavations a palace. Every- 
where faces stared at me — blank, chitinous 
gapes and masks, eyes peering over tremen- 
dous olfactory developments, eyes beneath 

316 



THE GRAND LUNAR 317 

monstrous forehead plates ; an undergrowth 
of smaller creatures dodged and yelped, and 
helmet faces poised on sinuous, long-jointed 
necks appeared craning over shoulders and 
beneath armpits. Keeping a welcome space 
about me marched a cordon of stolid, scuttle- 
headed guards, who had joined us on our 
leaving the boat in which we had come along 
the channels of the Central Sea. The quick- 
eyed artist with the little brain joined us 
also, and a thick bunch of lean porter-insects 
swayed and struggled under the multitude of 
conveniences that were considered essential 
to my state. I was carried in a litter during the 
final stage of our journey. This litter was made 
of some very ductile metal that looked dark 
to me, meshed and woven, and with bars of 
paler metal, and about me as I advanced 
there grouped itself a long and complicated 
procession. 

"In front, after the manner of heralds, 
marched four trumpet-faced creatures making 
a devastating bray ; and then came squat, 
resolute-moving ushers before and behind, 
and on either hand a galaxy of learned heads, 
a sort of animated encyclopaedia, who were, 
Phi-00 explained, to stand about the Grand 
Lunar for purposes of reference. (Not a 



3t8 the first men IN THE MOON 

thing in lunar science, not a point of view 
or method of thinking, that these wonderful 
beings did not carry in their heads !) Fol- 
lowed guards and porters, and then Phi-oo's 
shivering brain borne also on a litter. Then 
came Tsi-puff in a slightly less important 
litter ; then myself on a litter of greater ele- 
gance than any other, and surrounded by my 
food and drink attendants. More trumpeters 
came next, splitting the ear with vehement 
outcries, and then several big brains, special 
correspondents one might well call them, or 
historiographers, charged with the task of 
observing and remembering every detail of 
this epoch-making interview. A company of 
attendants, bearing and dragging banners and 
masses of scented fungus and curious symbols, 
vanished in the darkness behind. The way 
was lined by ushers and officers in capari- 
sons that gleamed like steel, and beyond 
their line, so far as my eyes could pierce the 
gloom, the heads of that enormous crowd ex- 
tended. 

*' I will own that I am still by no means 
indurated to the peculiar effect of the Selenite 
appearance, and to find myself, as it were, adrift 
on this broad sea of excited entomology was 
by no means agreeable. Just for a space I had 



THE GRAND LUNAR 319 

something very like what I should imagine 
people mean when they speak of the * horrors.* 
It had come to me before in these lunar 
caverns, when on occasion I have found my- 
self weaponless and with an undefended back, 
amidst a crowd of these Selenites, but never 
quite so vividly. It is, of course, as absolutely 
irrational a feeling as one could well have, 
and I hope gradually to subdue it. But just 
for a moment, as I swept forward into the 
welter of the vast crowd, it was only by grip- 
ping my litter tightly and summoning all my 
will-power that I succeeded in avoiding an 
outcry or some such manifestation. It lasted 
perhaps three minutes ; then I had myself in 
hand again. 

'*We ascended the spiral of a vertical way 
for some time and then passed through a series 
of huge halls, dome-roofed and elaborately de- 
corated. The approach to the Grand Lunar 
was certainly contrived to give one a vivid 
impression of his greatness. Each cavern one 
entered seemed greater and more boldly arched 
than its predecessor. This effect of progressive 
size was enhanced by a thin haze of faintly 
phosphorescent blue incense that thickened as 
one advanced, and robbed even the nearer 
figures of clearness. I seemed to advance 



320 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

continually to something larger, dimmer, and 
less material. 

" I must confess that all this multitude made 
me feel extremely shabby and unworthy. I was 
unshaven and unkempt ; I had brought no 
razor ; I had a coarse beard over my mouth. 
On earth I have always been inclined to despise 
any attention to my person beyond a proper 
care for cleanliness ; but under the exceptional 
circumstances in which I found myself, repre- 
senting, as I did, my planet and my kind, and 
depending very largely upon the attractiveness 
of my appearance for a proper reception, I 
could have given much for something a little 
more artistic and dignified than the husks I 
wore. I had been so serene in the belief that 
the moon was uninhabited as to overlook such 
precautions altogether. As it was I was dressed 
in a flannel jacket, knickerbockers, and golfing 
stockings, stained with every sort of dirt the 
moon offered ; slippers (of which the left heel 
was wanting), and a blanket, through a hole 
in which I thrust my head. (These clothes, 
indeed, I still wear.) Sharp bristles are any- 
thing but an improvement to my cast of 
features, and there was an unmended tear at 
the knee of my knickerbockers that showed 
conspicuously as I squatted in my litter ; my 



THE GRAND LUNAR 321 

•ight stocking, too, persisted in getting about 
ny ankle. I am fully alive to the injustice my 
ippearance did humanity, and if by any ex- 
pedient I could have improvised something a 
ittle out of the way and imposing I would have 
lone so. But I could hit upon nothing. I 
lid what I could with my blanket — folding it 
somewhat after the fashion of a toga, and for 
;he rest I sat as upright as the swaying of my 
itter permitted. 

" Imagine the largest hall you have ever been 
n, imperfectly lit with blue light and obscured 
Dy a grey-blue fog, surging with metallic or 
ivid-grey creatures of such a mad diversity as 
[ have hinted. Imagine this hall to end in 
m open archway beyond which is a still larger 
lall, and beyond this yet another and still larger 
)nej and so on. At the end of the vista, dimly 
>een, a flight of steps, like the steps of Ara 
Doeli at Rome, ascend out of sight. Higher 
md higher these steps appear to go as one 
Iraws nearer their base. But at last I came 
inder a huge archway and beheld the summit 
)f these steps, and upon it the Grand Lunar 
exalted on his throne. 

'* He was seated in what was relatively a 
Dlaze of Incandescent blue. This, and the 
iarkness about him, gave him an effect of 

X 



322 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

floating in a blue-black void. He seemed a 
small, self-luminous cloud at first, brooding on 
his sombre throne ; his brain case must have 
measured many yards in diameter. For some 
reason that I cannot fathom a number of blue 
search-lights radiated from behind the throne 
on which he sat, and immediately encircling 
him was a halo. About him, and little and 
indistinct in this glow, a number of body- 
servants sustained and supported him, and 
overshadowed and standing in a huge semi- 
circle beneath him were his intellectual sub- 
ordinates, his remembrancers and computators 
and searchers and servants, and all the dis- 
tinguished insects of the court of the moon. 
Still lower stood ushers and messengers, and 
then all down the countless steps of the 
throne were guards, and at the base, enormous, 
various, indistinct, vanishing at last into an 
absolute black, a vast swaying multitude of 
the minor dignitaries of the moon. Their 
feet made a perpetual scraping whisper on 
the rocky floor, their limbs moved with a 
rustling murmur. 

" As I entered the penultimate hall the music 
rose and expanded into an imperial magni- 
ficence of sound, and the shrieks of the news- 
bearers died away. . . , 




The Grand Lunar 



THE GRAND LUNAR 323 

" I entered the last and greatest hall. . . . 

*' My procession opened out like a fan. My 
ushers and guards went right and left, and the 
three litters bearing myself and PhI-00 and Tsl- 
puff marched across a shiny darkness of floor 
to the foot of the giant stairs. Then began 
a vast throbbing hum, that mingled with the 
music. The two Selenltes dismounted, but I 
was bidden remain seated — I Imagine as a 
special honour. The music ceased, but not 
that humming, and by a simultaneous move- 
ment of ten thousand respectful heads my atten- 
tion was directed to the enhaloed supreme 
intelligence that hovered above me. 

" At first as I peered into the radiating glow 
this quintessential brain looked very much like 
an opaque, featureless bladder with dim, undu- 
lating ghosts of convolutions writhing visibly 
within. Then beneath its enormity and just 
above the edge of the throne one saw with a 
start minute elfin eyes peering out of the glow. 
No face, but eyes, as If they peered through 
holes. At first I could see no more than these 
two staring little eyes, and then below I dis- 
tinguished the little dwarfed body and its in- 
sect-jointed limbs shrivelled and white. The 
eyes stared down at me with a strange intensity, 
and the lower part of the swollen globe was 



324 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

wrinkled. Ineffectual-looking little hand-ten- 
tacles steadied this shape on the throne. . . . 

** It was great. It was pitiful. One forgot 
the hall and the crowd. 

" I ascended the staircase by jerks. It 
seemed to me that this darkly glowing brain 
case above us spread over me, and took more 
and more of the whole eifect Into Itself as I 
drew nearer. The tiers of attendants and 
helpers grouped about their master seemed to 
dwindle and fade into the night. I saw that 
shadowy attendants were busy spraying that 
great brain with a cooling spray, and pat- 
ting and sustaining It. For my own part, 
I sat gripping my swaying litter and staring 
at the Grand Lunar, unable to turn my gaze 
aside. And at last, as I reached a little land- 
ing that was separated only by ten steps or so 
from the supreme seat, the woven splendour 
of the music reached a climax and ceased, and 
I was left naked, as It were. In that vastness, 
beneath the still scrutiny of the Grand Lunar's 
eyes. 

*^ He was scrutinising the first man he had 
ever seen. . . . 

" My eyes dropped at last from his greatness 
to the faint figures in the blue mist about him, 
and then down the steps to the massed Selenites, 



THE GRAND LUNAR 325 

still and expectant in their thousands, packed on 
the floor below. Once again an unreasonable 
horror reached out towards me. . . . And 
passed. 

" After the pause came the salutation. I 
was assisted from my litter, and stood awk- 
wardly while a number of curious and no doubt 
deeply symbolical gestures were vicariously per- 
formed for me by two slender officials. The 
encyclopaedic galaxy of the learned that had 
accompanied me to the entrance of the last hall 
appeared two steps above me and left and right 
of me, in readiness for the Grand Lunar s need, 
and Phi-oo's pale brain placed itself about 
half-way up to the throne in such a j position 
as to communicate easily between us without 
turning his back on either the Grand Lunar or 
myself. Tsi-puff took up a position behind 
him. Dexterous ushers sidled sideways to- 
wards me, keeping a full face to the Presence. 
I seated myself Turkish fashion, and Phi-oo 
and Tsi-puff also knelt down above me. There 
came a pause. The eyes of the nearer court 
went from me to the Grand Lunar and came 
back to me, and a hissing and piping of expec- 
tation passed across the hidden multitudes below 
and ceased. 

** That humming ceased. 



326 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** For the first and last time in my experience 
the moon was silent. 

" I became aware of a faint wheezy noise. 
The Grand Lunar was addressing me. It was 
like the rubbing of a finger upon a pane of 
glass. 

" I watched him attentively for a time, and 
then glanced at the alert Phi-oo. I felt amidst 
these slender beings ridiculously thick and fleshy 
and solid ; my head all jaw and black hair. 
My eyes went back to the Grand Lunar. He 
had ceased ; his attendants were busy, and his 
shining superficies was glistening and running 
with cooling spray. 

" Phi-oo meditated through an interval. He 
consulted Tsi-puff. Then he began piping his 
recognisable English — at first a little nervously, 
so that he was not very clear. 

*' ' M'm — the Grand Lunar — wishes to say — 
wishes to say — he gathers you are — m'm — men 
— that you are a man from the planet earth. 
He wishes to say that he welcomes you— 
welcomes you — and wishes to learn — learn, if 
I may use the word — the state of your world, 
and the reason why you came to this.' 

"He paused. I was about to reply when he 
resumed. He proceeded to remarks of which 
the drift was not very clear, though I am in- 



THE GRAND LUNAR 327 

dined to think they were intended to be com- 
plimentary. He told me that the earth was to 
the moon what the sun is to the earth, and that 
the Selenites desired very greatly to learn about 
the earth and men. He then told me, no doubt 
in compliment also, the relative magnitude and 
diameter of earth and moon, and the perpetual 
wonder and speculation with which the Selenites 
had regarded our planet. I meditated with 
downcast eyes, and decided to reply that men 
too had wondered what might lie in the moon, 
and had judged it dead, little recking of such 
magnificence as I had seen that day. The 
Grand Lunar, in token of recognition, caused 
his long blue rays to rotate in a very con- 
fusing manner, and all about the great hall ran 
the pipings and whisperings and rustlings of 
the report of what I had said. He then pro- 
ceeded to put to Phi-00 a number of inquiries 
which were easier to answer. 

*' He understood, he explained, that we 
lived on the surface of the earth, that our air 
and sea were outside the globe ; the latter 
part, indeed, he already knew from his astro- 
nomical specialists. He was very anxious to 
have more detailed information of what he 
called this extraordinary state of affairs, for 
from the solidity of the earth there had always 



328 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

been a disposition to regard it as uninhabit- 
able. He endeavoured first to ascertain the 
extremes of temperature to which we earth 
beings were exposed, and he was deeply inte- 
rested by my descriptive treatment of clouds 
and rain. His imagination was assisted by 
the fact that the lunar atmosphere in the outer 
galleries of the night side is not infrequently 
very foggy. He seemed inclined to marvel 
that we did not find the sunlight too intense 
for our eyes, and was interested in my attempt 
to explain that the sky was tempered to a 
bluish colour through the refraction of the air, 
though I doubt if he clearly understood that. 
I explained how the iris of the human eyes 
can contract the pupil and save the delicate 
internal structure from the excess of sunlight, 
and was allowed to approach within a few feet 
of the Presence in order that this structure 
might be seen. This led to a comparison of 
the lunar and terrestrial eyes. The former is 
not only excessively sensitive to such light as 
men can see, but it can also see heat, and 
every difference in temperature within the 
moon renders objects visible to it. 

** The iris was quite a new organ to the 
Grand Lunar. For a time he amused himself 
by flashing his rays into my face and watching 



THE GRAND LUNAR 329 

my pupils contract. As a consequence, I was 
dazzled and blinded for some little time. . . . 

" But in spite of that discomfort I found 
something reassuring by insensible degrees in 
the rationality of this business of question and 
answer. I could shut my eyes, think of my 
answer, and almost forget that the Grand 
Lunar has no face. . . . 

" When I had descended again to my proper 
place the Grand Lunar asked how we sheltered 
ourselves from heat and storms, and I ex- 
pounded to him the arts of building and fur- 
nishing. Here we wandered into misunder- 
standings and cross-purposes, due largely, I 
must admit, to the looseness of my expres- 
sions. For a long time I had great difficulty 
in making him understand the nature of a 
house. To him and his attendant Selenites it 
seemed, no doubt, the most whimsical thing in 
the world that men should build houses when 
they might descend into excavations, and an 
additional complication was introduced by the 
attempt I made to explain that men had 
originally begun their homes in caves, and 
that they were now taking their railways and 
many establishments beneath the surface. 
Here I think a desire for intellectual com- 
pleteness betrayed me. There was also a 



330 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

considerable tangle due to an equally unwise 
attempt on my part to explain about mines. 
Dismissing this topic at last in an incomplete 
state, the Grand Lunar inquired what we did 
with the interior of our globe. 

" A tide of twittering and piping swept into 
the remotest corners of that great assembly 
when it was at last made clear that we men 
know absolutely nothing of the contents of the 
world upon which the immemorial generations 
of our ancestors had been evolved. Three 
times had I to repeat that of all the 4000 miles 
of substance between the earth and its centre 
men knew only to the depth of a mile, and 
that very vaguely. I understood the Grand 
Lunar to ask why had I come to the moon 
seeing we had scarcely touched our own planet 
yet, but he did not trouble me at that time to 
proceed to an explanation, being too anxious 
to pursue the details of this mad inversion of 
all his ideas. 

"He reverted to the question of weather, 
and I tried to describe the perpetually chang- 
ing sky, and snow, and frost, and hurricanes. 
* But when the night comes,' he asked, *is it 
not cold ? ' 

*' I told him it was colder than by day. 

*' * And does not your atmosphere freeze ? ' 



THE GRAND LUNAR 331 

*' I told him not ; that it was never cold 
enough for that, because our nights were so 
short. 

" * Not even liquefy ? ' 

*' I was about to say 'No,' but then it oc- 
curred to me that one part at least of our 
atmosphere, the water vapour of it, does some- 
times liquefy and form dew, and sometimes 
freeze and form frost — a process perfectly 
analogous to the freezing of all the external 
atmosphere of the moon during its longer 
night. I made myself clear on this point, and 
from that the Grand Lunar went on to speak 
with me of sleep. For the need of sleep that 
comes so regularly every twenty-four hours to 
all things is part also of our earthly inherit- 
ance. On the moon they rest only at rare 
intervals, and after exceptional exertions. 
Then I tried to describe to him the soft splen- 
dours of a summer night, and from that I 
passed to a description of those animals that 
prowl by night and sleep by day. I told 
him of lions and tigers, and here it seemed 
as though we had come to a deadlock. For, 
save in their waters, there are no creatures 
in the moon not absolutely domestic and sub- 
ject to his will, and so it has been for im- 
memorial years. They have monstrous water 



332 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

creatures, but no evil beasts, and the idea of 
anything strong and large existing ' outside ' 
in the night is very difficult for them. . . . 

[The record is here too broken to transcribe 
for the space of perhaps twenty words or more.] 

** He talked with his attendants, as I sup- 
pose, upon the strange superficiality and un- 
reasonableness of (man), who lives on the mere 
surface of a world, a creature of waves and 
winds, and all the chances of space, who can- 
not even unite to overcome the beasts that 
prey upon his kind, and yet who dares to 
invade another planet. During this aside I 
sat thinking, and then at his desire I told him 
of the different sorts of men. He searched me 
with questions. ' And for all sorts of work 
you have the same sort of men. But who 
thinks ? Who governs ? ' 

*' I gave him an outline of the democratic 
method. 

" When I had done he ordered cooling 
sprays upon his brow, and then requested me 
to repeat my explanation, conceiving some- 
thing had miscarried. 

*' ' Do they not do different things, then?' 
said Phi-oo. 

" Some I admitted were thinkers and some 
officials ; some hunted, some were mechanics. 



THE GRAND LUNAR 333 

some artists, some toilers. * But a/l rule/ I 
said. 

" * And have they not different shapes to fit 
them to their different duties ? * 

** * None that you can see,' I said, * except, 
perhaps, for clothes. Their minds perhaps 
differ a little/ I reflected. 

** * Their minds must differ a great deal,' 
said the Grand Lunar, * or they would all want 
to do the same things.* 

"In order to bring myself into a closer har- 
mony with his preconceptions I said that his 
surmise was right. ' It was all hidden in the 
brain,' I said ; * but the difference was there. 
Perhaps if one could see the minds and souls 
of men they would be as varied and unequal 
as the Selenites. There were great men and 
small men, men who could reach out far and 
wide, and men who could go swiftly ; noisy, 
trumpet-minded men, and men who could re- 
member without thinking. . . . [The record 
is indistinct for three words.] 

"He interrupted me to recall me to my 
previous statement. * But you said all men 
rule?' he pressed. 

** * To a certain extent,' I said, and made, 
I fear, a denser fog with my explanation. 

"He reached out to a salient fact. ' Do 



334 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

you mean,' he asked, * that there is no Grand 
Earthly ? ' 

'' I thought of several people, but assured 
him finally there was none. I; explained that 
such autocrats and emperors as we had tried 
upon earth had usually ended in drink, or vice, 
or violence, and that the large and influential 
section of the people of the earth to w^hich I 
belonged, the Anglo-Saxons, did not mean to 
try that sort of thing again. At which the 
Grand Lunar was even more amazed. 

** ' But how do you keep even such wisdom 
as you have ? ' he asked ; and I explained to 
him the way we helped our limited [a word 
omitted here, probably " brains "] with libraries 
of books. I explained to him how our science 
was growing by the united labours of innumer- 
able little men, and on that he made no com- 
ment save that it was evident we had mastered 
much in spite of our social savagery, or we 
could not have come to the moon. Yet the 
contrast was very marked. With knowledge 
the Selenites grew and changed ; mankind 
stored their knowledge about them and re- 
mained brutes — equipped. He said this . . . 
[Here there is a short piece of the record 
indistinct.] 

"He then caused me to describe how we 



THE GRAND LUNAR 335 

went about this earth of ours, and I described 
to him our railways and ships. For a time 
he could not understand that we had had the 
use of steam only one hundred years, but when 
he did he was clearly amazed. (I may mention 
as a singular thing that the Selenites use years 
to count by, just as we do on earth, though 
I can make nothing of their numeral system. 
That, however, does not matter, because Phi-00 
understands ours.) From that I went on to tell 
him that mankind had dwelt in cities only for 
nine or ten thousand years, and that we were 
still not united in one brotherhood, but under 
many different forms of government. This 
astonished the Grand Lunar very much, when 
it was made clear to him. At first he thought 
we referred merely to administrative areas. 

*' ' Our States and Empires are still the rawest 
sketches of what order will some day be,' I 
said, and so I came to tell him. . . . [At this 
point a length of record that probably repre- 
sents thirty or forty words is totally illegible.] 

** The Grand Lunar was greatly impressed 
by the folly of men in clinging to the incon- 
venience of diverse tongues. * They want 
to communicate, and yet not to communicate,' 
he said, and then for a long time he questioned 
me closely concerning war. 



336 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

** He was at first perplexed and incredulous. 

* You mean to say/ he asked, seeking confirma- 
tion, ' that you run about over the surface of 
your world — this world, whose riches you have 
scarcely begun to scrape — killing one another 
for beasts to eat ? ' 

" I told him that was perfectly correct. 

"He asked for particulars to assist his 
imagination. ^ But do not ships and your 
poor little cities get injured ? ' he asked, and 
I found the waste of property and conveniences 
seemed to impress him almost as much as the 
killing. * Tell me more,' said the Grand Lunar ; 

* make me see pictures. I cannot conceive 
these things.' 

** And so, for a space, though something loth, 
I told him the story of earthly War. 

** I told him of the first orders and cere- 
monies of war, of warnings and ultimatums, 
and the marshalling and marching of troops. 
I gave him an idea of manoeuvres and positions 
and battle joined. I told him of sieges and 
assaults, of starvation and hardship in trenches, 
and of sentinels freezing in the snow. I told 
him of routs and surprises, and desperate last 
stands and faint hopes, and the pitiless pursuit 
of fugitives and the dead upon the field. I 
told, too, of the past, of invasions and mas- 



THE GRAND LUNAR 337 

sacres, of the Huns and Tartars, and the wars 
of Mahomet and the Caliphs, and of the Cru- 
sades. And as I went on, and Phi-00 trans- 
lated, the Selenites cooed and murmured in 
a steadily intensified emotion. 

" I told them an ironclad could fire a shot 
of a ton twelve miles, and go through 20 ft. 
of iron — and how we could steer torpedoes 
under water. I went on to describe a Maxim 
gun in action, and what I could imagine of the 
Battle of Colenso. The Grand Lunar was so 
incredulous that he interrupted the translation of 
what I had said in order to have my verification 
of my account. They particularly doubted my 
description of the men cheering and rejoicing 
as they went into (? battle). 

*' * But surely they do not like it ! ' translated 
Phi-00. 

" I assured them men of my race considered 
battle the most glorious experience of life, at 
which the whole assembly was stricken with 
amazement. 

*' ' But what good is this war ? ' asked the 
Grand Lunar, sticking to his theme. 

**'Oh! as ioY good!' said I ; ' it thins the 
population ! ' 

" ' But why should there be a need — ?' . . . 

*' There came a pause, the cooling sprays 

Y 



338 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

impinged upon his brow, and then he spoke 

again." 

At this point a series of undulations that have been 
apparent as a perplexing complication as far back as Cavor's 
description of the silence that fell before the first speaking 
of the Grand Lunar become confusingly predominant in 
the record. These undulations are evidently the result 
of radiations proceeding from a lunar source, and their 
persistent approximation to the alternating signals of Cavor 
is curiously suggestive of some operator deliberately seeking 
to mix them in with his message and render it illegible. 
At first they are small and regular, so that with a little care 
and the loss of very few words we have been able to dis- 
entangle Cavor's message ; then they become broad and 
larger, then suddenly they are irregular, with an irregularity 
that gives the effect at last of some one scribbling through 
a line of writing. For a long time nothing can be made of 
this madly zigzagging trace ; then quite abruptly the inter- 
ruption ceases, leaves a few words clear, and then resumes 
and continues for all the rest of the message, completely 
obliterating whatever Cavor was attempting to transmit. 
Why, if this is indeed a deliberate intervention, the Selenites 
should have preferred to let Cavor go on transmitting his 
message in happy ignorance of their obliteration of its 
record, when it was clearly quite in their power and much 
more easy and convenient for them to stop his proceedings 
at any time, is a problem to which I can contribute nothing. 
The thing seems to have happened so, and that is all I can 
say. This last rag of his description of the Grand Lunar 
begins in mid-sentence : — 

'' interrogated me very closely upon my 
secret. I was able in a little while to get to 
an understanding with them, and at last to 



THE GRAND LUNAR 339 

elucidate what has been a puzzle to me ever 
since I realised the vastness of their science, 
namely, how it is they themselves have never 
discovered * Cavorite.' I find they know of it 
as a theoretical substance, but they have always 
regarded it as a practical impossibility, because 
for some reason there is no helium in the moon, 
and helium " 

Across the last letters of helium slashes the resumption 
of that obliterating trace. Note that word ''secret," for 
on that, and that alone, I base my interpretation of the 
message that follows, the last message, as both Mr. Wen- 
digee and myself now believe it to be, that he is ever 
likely to send us. 



XXVI 

THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT TO THE EARTH 

In this unsatisfactory manner the penultimate 
message of Cavor dies out. One seems to see 
him away there in the blue obscurity amidst his 
apparatus intently signalling us to the last, all 
unaware of the curtain of confusion that drops 
between us ; all unaware, too, of the final dangers 
that even then must have been creeping upon 
him. His disastrous want of vulgar common 
sense had utterly betrayed him. He had talked 
of war, he had talked of all the strength and 
irrational violence of men, of their insatiable 
aggressions, their tireless futility of conflict. 
He had filled the whole moon world with this 
impression of our race, and then I think it is 
plain that he made the most fatal admission 
that upon himself alone hung the possibility 
— at least for a long time — of any further men 
reaching the moon. The line the cold, inhuman 
reason of the moon would take seems plain 

enough to me, and a suspicion of it, and then 

340 



THE LAST MESSAGE CAVOR SENT 341 

perhaps some sudden sharp realisation of it, 
must have come to him. One imagines him 
going about the moon with the remorse of this 
fatal indiscretion growing in his mind. Dur- 
ing a certain time I am incHned to guess the 
Grand Lunar was deliberating the new situa- 
tion, and for all that time Cavor may have 
gone as free as ever he had gone. But 
obstacles of some sort prevented his getting 
to his electro-magnetic apparatus again after 
that message I have just given. For some 
days we received nothing. Perhaps he was 
having fresh audiences, and trying to evade 
his previous admissions. Who can hope to 
guess ? 

And then suddenly, like a cry in the night, 
like a cry that is followed by a stillness, came 
the last message. It is the briefest fragment, 
the broken beginnings of two sentences. 

The first was : " I was mad to let the Grand 
Lunar know " 

There was an interval of perhaps a minute. 
One imagines some interruption from without. 
A departure from the instrument— a dreadful 
hesitation among the looming masses of appa- 
ratus in that dim, blue-lit cavern — a sudden 
rush back to it, full of a resolve that came 
too late. Then, as if it were hastily trans- 



342 THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON 

mitted, came : *' Cavorite made as follows : 
take " 

There followed one word, a quite unmeaning 
word as it stands : ** uless." 

And that is all. 

It may be he made a hasty attempt to spell 
*' useless" when his fate was close upon him. 
Whatever It was that was happening about that 
apparatus we cannot tell. Whatever it was we 
shall never, I know, receive another message 
from the moon. For my own part a vivid 
dream has come to my help, and I see, almost 
as plainly as though I had seen it in actual 
fact, a blue -lit shadowy dishevelled Cavor 
struggling in the grip of these insect Selenites, 
struggling ever more desperately and hope- 
lessly as they press upon him, shouting, ex- 
postulating, perhaps even at last fighting, and 
being forced backward step by step out of all 
speech or sign of his fellows, for evermore into 
the Unknown — into the dark, into that silence 
that has no end. . . . 






|U02 



GEORGE NBWNSS, LIMITED, LONDON. 



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